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A team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that failure to control type 2 diabetes may have a long-term impact on the brain.

At a conference of the charity Diabetes UK, they presented their study that involved 1,066 people with type 2 diabetes aged between 60 and 75 and their results that indicated that severe hypoglycaemic episodes (hypos) that occur when blood sugar levels drop dangerously low may lead to poorer memory and diminished brain power.

The study volunteers completed seven tests assessing mental abilities such as memory, logic and concentration. The 113 people who had previously experienced severe hypos scored lower than the rest of the group. They performed poorly in tests of their general mental ability, and vocabulary.

Dr Jackie Price, the lead researcher says that it is not known yet whether hypos lead to cognitive decline, or cognitive decline makes it more difficult for people to manage their diabetes, which in turn causes more hypos. There could also be another explanation, that a third unidentified factor is causing both the hypos and the cognitive decline.

More research is being carried out to establish which explanation is the most likely.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, says that it is already known that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, which is a type of dementia, and this new research adds another piece to a very complex jigsaw puzzle.

Currently, there are 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and up to 500,000 who have type 2 diabetes but are not aware of it. It is predicted that by 2025 there will be up to four million people with diabetes in the UK.


I thought type 2 diabetics tend to be hyperglycemic rather than hypoglycemic. The hypoglycemic state may be induced when excessive insulin is taken. Diabetics are supposed to carry with them sugar pills or sugary foods to counteract such a reaction.