In a recent study, lead author Dr. Michele L. Callisaya, affiliated with Menzies Institute for Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, examined 705 subjects from the Cognition and Diabetes in Older Tasmanians (CDOT) study who were aged 55 to 90 years, did not have dementia, and who underwent brain MRI that revealed both ventricular and total brain volume changes. Of the 705 participants, 348 individuals were diagnosed with diabetes and the mean age was 72.5 years (SD 7.1).

Global psychological functioning, which included testing of numerous cognitive domains, was evaluated at three time periods over roughly 4 and a half years. Researchers adjusted for covariates, including age, sex, education, and vascular risk factors, and used mixed models to assess the association of type 2 diabetes with both the cognitive and MRI results. There were significant diabetes diagnoses over time interactions for verbal memory (Beta –0.06; 95% CI, –0.09, –0.02) and verbal fluency (Beta –0.03; 95% CI, –0.06, –0.00). Researchers further noted that individuals with diabetes had lower brain volume (Beta –14.273; 95% CI, –21.197, –6.580) and greater ventricular volume (Beta 2.672; 95% CI, 0.152, 5.193) at baseline.  

In a recent interview, Dr. Callisaya said, “Recommendations for good brain health include physical activity, following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, checking blood pressure and cholesterol, mentally challenging the brain and enjoying social activities.”

Researchers concluded that type 2 diabetes is associated with a decline in verbal memory and fluency over a period of roughly 5 years in older adults who were identified to be community-dwellers, and that the effect of diabetes on brain atrophy may begin earlier in midlife.
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