Yes, there is a connection. People with diabetes have a higher risk for conditions that cause memory loss. Its especially true for people with type 2 diabetes.
Memory loss can be caused in several different ways.
The most well-known brain injury that can affect anyone with diabetes is a stroke. It is common for one or more strokes to affect memory abilities. People with type 2 diabetes have a risk for stroke that is four times that of the rest of the population.
People with diabetes can lower their risk for stroke in these ways:
- Maintaining good blood sugar control
- Treating high blood pressure
- Lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
Studies have shown that a large number of diabetics develop Alzheimers dementia compared to non-diabetics. Were not sure of the reason why. Is it due to a genetic risk that is shared by all diabetics? Or is the brains exposure to higher insulin levels (early type 2 diabetes) the cause of damage? There is some evidence to support both explanations.
Another possibility is sugar levels that get too low (hypoglycemia). This can sometimes happen with overly aggressive treatment of diabetes. If this happens over and over again, the low sugar levels can cause brain injury and memory loss.
Keeping blood sugar levels close to normal (tight control) requires great care on the part of the doctor-patient team. Tight control may not be appropriate for everyone with type 2 diabetes. This is especially true those who have little or no symptoms that can warn them of low blood sugar.