Older adults with type 2 diabetes have increased risk of dementia after one single episode with a low blood sugar sending them to the emergency room. A new study published recently in JAMA found that one episode of severe hypoglycemia increased risk of dementia at a later age by 45%. Two episodes increased the risk by 115% and three or more episodes raised the risk by 160%.
The 16,667 patients who were in the Kaiser Permanente system had a mean age in the mid-60s. Their records were analyzed for trips to the hospital or emergency room for hypoglycemia from 1980 through 2002 and then followed from 2003 to 2007 for signs of dementia.
Approximately 9% of the patients had serious episodes of hypoglycemia in the 22-year period and 11% were diagnosed with dementia between 2003 and 2007. Study author Rachel Whitmer, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente, emphasized the study’s results and correlation to the importance of blood glucose control.