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Stress risky for elderly diabetics

Older people with diabetes are more susceptible to mental decline under stressful conditions, research has found.

In a study of people with type 2 diabetes at Edinburgh University, brain function was found to slow down in those with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

The participants underwent tests to determine their memory and information processing speed.

Factors like education, mood, smoking and cardiovascular disease were considered and blood samples were taken to estimate cortisol levels.

Type 2 diabetes, where the body does not produce sufficient insulin or the insulin produced does not work, generally affects people over 40 and is associated with memory problems.

The latest research - part of a study established four years ago to examine the link between diabetes and memory problems - was conducted on more than 900 men and women aged between 60 and 75.

Dr Rebecca Reynolds, of Edinburgh University's Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said: "We know that type 2 diabetes is linked to problems with memory, but the reason behind this is unclear.

"This study shows that older people with diabetes who have higher levels of stress hormones in their blood are more likely to have experienced cognitive decline.

"It may be that by regulating cortisol levels, we could help improve cognitive decline in patients with type 2 diabetes."

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