Alzheimer’s patients at higher diabetes risk

Early diabetes signs are often missed out in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance) and even type 2 diabetes are common among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease who have no apparent risk factors of the disease.

To check if glucose levels in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease change, the researchers from the Georgetown University examined resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and red wine.

Resveratrol is believed to act on proteins in the brain in a way that mimics effects of a low-calorie diet.

The study
For the purpose of the study, 125 study subjects were tested for fasting glucose levels to obtain a baseline levels. The levels were retested two hours after eating.

A slightly high sugar level after two hours signifies glucose intolerance (pre-diabetes) and diabetes if the scores are significantly high.

43 percent of the participants had fasting glucose levels that were 140 mg/dL or greater at 2 hours, researchers highlighted.

Furthermore, 13 percent participants had fasting glucose levels greater than 200 mg/dL, suggesting type 2 diabetes.

“The high percentage of patients with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance is greater than I would expect,” Babak Tousi, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Brain Health, Lakewood, Ohio, marked.

“We were surprised by these figures because these were relatively healthy Alzheimer’s disease patients,” R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington said. “They were not overweight or obese, and they had not received a diabetes diagnosis [and] were not taking any medications to control diabetes.”

“Due to this high prevalence, a baseline oral glucose tolerance test may be considered for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease in order to optimize medical management of borderline or undiagnosed type 2 diabetes,” he added.

“There have been other studies that have also found that patients with Alzheimer’s disease who may not have other symptoms also have diabetes,” Tousi said. “I think that this study and the other work in the field would suggest that when a patient undergoes a physical workup and Alzheimer’s disease is suspected, glucose tolerance testing is warranted.”

The researchers are scheduled to present their findings Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Congress in Boston.