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New Formula Helps Doctors Predict Which Diabetics Get Dementia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Past research has proven that those with type 2 diabetes are about twice as likely to eventually develop dementia than non-diabetics. But how do you predict those who will develop dementia? An international team of researchers may have figured out the solution.

For the study, published in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, researchers looked at data from nearly 30,000 patients with type 2 diabetes and applied a formula that took into account a number of factors -- from heart disease to age to education level. Scoring the patients with this formula, the researchers found that those with the lowest scores had only a 5.3 percent risk of developing dementia within 10 years, while those with the highest scores had a 73.3 percent risk.

"Having an acute metabolic event, having micro-vascular disease, diabetic foot, cerebral vascular disease, cardiovascular or depression, all of these things together elevate your ten-year risk of getting dementia," said study author Dr. Rachel Whitmer.

Whitmer, who works for the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in California, said there is an estimated 23.6 million people -- that's 7.8 percent of the population -- in the U.S. living with diabetes. An even greater number of people have pre-diabetes, which, according to Whitmer, is, "even more evidence out there that what's good for the heart is good for the brain."

 

The next big question now that we can identify people that have a ten-year future high risk of dementia, she says, is, "Do their brains look different? Do they perform [differently] on cognitive tests?"

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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