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Diabetes and Vascular Dementia - What You Should Know?

Written and reviewed by
DM - Neurology, MD - General Medicine
Neurologist, Ahmedabad  •  14 years experience
Diabetes and Vascular Dementia - What You Should Know?

Diabetes and dementia have more in common than the letter ‘D’. Diabetes is a disorder where the body cannot produce enough insulin. It may also make the patient’s body resistant to insulin. As a result, the body’s glucose levels fluctuate. This, in turn, increases the risk of many other conditions including vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This risk can be as high as 60%. Dementia caused by diabetes is seen more often in women than in men.

According to research studies, high levels of glucose or sugar in the body can affect the brain cells. This excessive sugar limits the amount of oxygen that can reach the brain cells and leads to the death of these cells. It also prevents brain cells from communicating with each other thus leading to vascular dementia. Vascular dementia can also be caused by a stroke or a number of small strokes. This too is an effect of diabetes as it can cause cardiovascular troubles and narrow the arteries.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. Patients suffering from this type of dementia typically complain of memory loss and difficulty thinking. Language may also be an issue. Some of the common symptoms associated with it are:

  • Trouble planning or organizing things
  • Trouble solving simple problems
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty in following steps or a procedure
  • Reduced speed of thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings

The risk of developing vascular dementia doubles every five years after the age of 65. Hence, it is important to keep your diabetes under control and manage your blood sugar levels. If you are on insulin, you must take the prescribed dose regularly. Do not change the dosage on your own or skip a dose. Here are a few other tips that can help you control diabetes and reduce the risk of vascular dementia.

Eat a well-balanced diet
A person suffering from diabetes should have plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid processed foods and fatty foods. Instead of frying our food, try grilling, steaming or baking it. Raw salads are great for a diabetes patient.

Exercise Regularly
Exercise can improve your overall health and make your body respond better to the insulin. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle; start by adding a walk to your daily routine. You could also try cycling or swimming. Aim for at least half an hour’s exercise each day. If you cannot find the time, incorporate exercises into your daily routine. For example, take the stairs instead of the lift or park your car a little further away from your home and walk back.

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