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The Link Between Alzheimer’s and Untreated Diabetes

Diabetes is a multifaceted and challenging medical condition that affects many parts of the body and requires constant attention. When left untreated, diabetes increases the risk of many serious health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

At East Side Primary Medical Care on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, our knowledgeable primary care physician, Dr. Daniel Klein, specializes in diabetes management and the many life and health challenges that come with it.

In this month’s blog post, we want to explain the link between Alzheimer’s disease and untreated diabetes and what you can do to protect your health.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that affects thinking, memory, and behavior and is the most common cause of dementia. Though researchers are still learning about Alzheimer’s disease, they theorize that the brain disorder occurs from changes in proteins in the brain that disrupt brain cell communication, ultimately leading to brain cell damage and death.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, and brain damage starts years before symptoms appear. Difficulty recalling recent conversations or events are early signs of the disease. Over time, the changes in the brain affect thinking and behavior. 

The link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes

It’s estimated that about 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease have Type 2 diabetes. Scientists are still looking into the link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, but it may have something to do with insulin and glucose.

Glucose is your brain’s main source of energy. Insulin is the hormone that opens the cell door, allowing glucose to move from the bloodstream into the cell. People with diabetes either don’t make insulin or their cells are resistant to the actions of insulin (insulin resistance). Without glucose, the brain fails to get the energy it needs to function properly, which affects the memory-forming areas of the brain.

Scientists also see a connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes referring to the brain disorder as “Type 3 diabetes”. In addition to controlling blood glucose levels, insulin also supports thinking and memory functions in the brain. Insulin resistance affects these functions, leading to changes in memory and executive function.

High blood sugar is also linked to the brain protein changes that affect brain cell communication and function.

Managing diabetes for brain health

Keeping blood glucose levels within normal range is your best defense against Alzheimer’s disease. This sounds simple enough, but it requires your active participation. But you don’t have to manage diabetes on your own. We’re here to help.

We customize diabetes management plans so our patients get the best outcomes. Plans may include:

Diabetes is complex, but it’s not impossible to manage. If you’re having a hard time managing your diabetes, we can provide guidance. For those looking for extra support, we offer concierge primary care, giving you greater access to Dr. Klein.

Give our office a call today at 680-206-2794 or book an appointment with our primary care provider online.

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