Severe hypoglycaemic episodes or "hypos", where blood glucose levels drop dangerously low, may lead to poor memory and diminished brain power in people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research' announced at leading health charity Diabetes UK's Annual Professional Conference.
The study looked at 1,066 people with type 2 diabetes aged between 60 and 75 years old. Participants completed seven tests looking at memory, logic and concentration to establish their level of brain function. The 113 people who had previously experienced severe hypos scored lower than the rest of the group.
There are at least 670,000 people in England aged between 60 and 75 years old who have type 2 diabetes and around a third of them could be at risk of a hypo.
Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: "This study reinforces previous evidence which suggests that poorly controlled diabetes affects the functioning of the brain. Cognitive decline is the decline of brain functions such as memory, attention, vocabulary and planning. It can be a predictor of dementia although this is only in some cases.
"We already know that Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, which is a type of dementia, and this research adds another piece to a very complex jigsaw puzzle. However, more research is needed before we can come to any firm conclusions. If anyone with diabetes is concerned about their treatment they should consult their GP or diabetes healthcare professional."