Are diabetes and Alzheimer’s linked?

As you get older, the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s increases1, and if you have diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for getting Alzheimer’s disease.2 Diabetes may also lead to other types of dementia.2

The connection between Alzheimer’s and diabetes is more noticeable in those who have type 2 diabetes.2 By taking action now, you may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease and other complications.

How diabetes causes changes in your brain

Diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels, which makes it a risk factor for vascular dementia. This type of dementia comes from brain damage caused by reduced or blocked blood flow to the brain.

Many people with diabetes have brain changes that are part of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Some researchers think that each condition increases the damage caused by the other.2

Lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses

Work with your healthcare team to manage your diabetes and help avoid or reduce complications. Good diabetes management may also help the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.2 Talk to your doctor about the best way for you to manage your diabetes.

Steps for managing diabetes and its complications

To manage diabetes and help avoid complications, here are some recommendations to discuss with your doctor:2

  • Follow your healthcare team's guidance about the best plan of action for monitoring blood glucose, cholesterol level, and blood pressure.
  • Eat healthy foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat milk and cheese.
  • If you’re overweight, eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Examine your feet daily for cuts or sores.
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily.
  • Take any prescribed medications on schedule.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm (link opens in new window)
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/in-depth/diabetes-and-alzheimers/art-20046987 (link opens in new window)