-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- Undiagnosed prediabetes and
diabetes are common in people with early Alzheimer's disease, a
Georgetown University neurologist Dr. R. Scott Turner made the
finding when he began enrolling people with mild to moderate
Alzheimer's disease into a study last year. The study's goal was to
determine if resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and red
wine, might change blood sugar (glucose) levels in patients with
mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Turner said he was shocked by what he found in this group of
patients because they were already under a doctor's care, and those
with known diabetes were excluded from the study.
"The number of people with glucose intolerance (prediabetes) was much higher than expected," Turner said in a university medical center news release. "I was surprised by how many people didn't know they were prediabetic, and these are individuals who already get the best medical care."
To join the study, patients were first given a fasting glucose
tolerance test, and then retested two hours after eating. The blood
sugar level increases during digestion, but the pancreas produces
insulin to lower it. A high sugar level after two hours reveals
glucose intolerance (prediabetes) or diabetes if the level is very
Five of 128 patients (4 percent) had impaired fasting glucose
levels. Meanwhile, 2 percent had findings consistent with type 2
diabetes. Of the 125 patients who completed the two-hour test, 30
percent had glucose intolerance while 13 percent had results
consistent with diabetes. The findings showed that 43 percent of
the patients had impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes at two
Turner said the results raise a number of questions: "How does
glucose intolerance or diabetes lead to [Alzheimer's disease]? Does
the inflammation associated with Alzheimer's trigger glucose
intolerance? Or do both events create a vicious cycle of
Alzheimer's and glucose intolerance?"
Although the study wasn't designed to answer these questions, it
may offer important clues. Although a glucose tolerance test is not
typically ordered by neurologists, "this result suggests that
perhaps we should test all our patients with early Alzheimer's,"
Turner said. "It's a simple, inexpensive study that reveals
critical health information."
Turner was scheduled to present his findings Sunday at the
Alzheimer's Association International Congress in Boston. The data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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