Diabetes and the impact it can have on brain health


Cognitive rehabilitation and diabetes discussed at VMH ... Pictured above is Steven Mazzafield, Speech-Language Pathologist at Veterans Memorial Hospital, who recently had the opportunity to present to the Diabetes Support Group at Veterans Memorial Hospital on the topic of diabetes and brain health. Diabetes is a disease that causes high levels of glucose or “sugar” in your blood, which over a long period of time, can be harmful to the brain in several ways. Anyone having trouble with cognition or memory issues may benefit from cognitive-rehabilitation. Talk to your doctor or call the Veterans Memorial Hospital’s Rehabilitation Department at 563-568-3411 to set up an evaluation. Submitted photo.

by Steven Mazzafield, Speech-Language Pathologist, Veterans Memorial Hospital

Diabetes is a disease that causes high levels of glucose or “sugar” in your blood. When you have high levels of blood sugar over a long period of time, it can be harmful to the brain in several ways.

First, it raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. It damages blood vessels that feed the brain, which leads to cognitive decline. High levels of blood sugar affect how brain cells communicate with one another. Lastly, it causes inflammation, which damages brain cells, leading to dementia.

Having high blood sugar can also damage nerve cells outside of the brain resulting in numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, which is called neuropathy. There is also a strong association between diabetes and developing depression, which can affect management of blood sugar levels.

There have been multiple studies linking reduced brain function with having diabetes. Research has shown adults with type-2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia. People with type-1 diabetes are 93% more likely to develop dementia. In addition, having high levels of blood sugar can result in increased levels of beta-amyloid protein, which is toxic to the cells in the brain and thought to be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I help many people with cognition and memory problems due to a variety of causes including stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. This is called cognitive-rehabilitation. Treatment consists of teaching strategies or improving brain function through brain exercises.

If you or someone you know is having trouble with cognition or memory and think you might benefit from cognitive-rehabilitation, talk to your doctor or call me directly at Veterans Memorial Hospital’s Rehabilitation Department, 563-568-3411, to set up an evaluation.

For more information about diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website: https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-dementia-diabetes-cogniti....

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