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Diabetics at significantly higher risk for Alzheimer's disease

CHICAGO -- Diabetes mellitus is linked to a 65 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) and affects some aspects of cognitive function differently than others, according to a new study conducted by Alzheimer's disease researchers from Rush University Medical Center.

The findings, from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center's Religious Orders Study, add to a developing body of research on a possible link between diabetes, AD, and cognitive decline. The results reported are among the first to examine how certain cognitive "systems" - memory for words and events, the speed of processing information, and the ability to recognize spatial patterns -- may be affected selectively in people with diabetes.

The research, by Dr. Zoe Arvanitakis, Dr. David Bennett, and colleagues at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, appears in the May 2004 issue of the Archives of Neurology. The investigators are part of the institution's Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, headed by Bennett. The AD Center is one of 30 across the U.S. supported by the National Institute on Aging to study and care for Alzheimer's patients.

Some 824 Catholic nuns, priests, and brothers participating in the Religious Orders Study were followed for an average of 5.5 years. They received detailed clinical evaluations annually, including neuropsychological testing of five cognitive "systems" commonly affected by aging, AD, and other dementias - episodic memory (memory of specific life events), semantic memory (general knowledge), working memory (ability to hold and mentally rearrange information), perceptual speed (the speed with which simple perceptual comparisons can be made, such as whether two strings of numbers are the same or different), and visuospatial ability (the ability to recognize spatial patterns). Over the study period, 151 of the participants developed AD, including 31 who had diabetes. The researchers found a 65 percent increase in the ris
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17-May-2004


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