Approximately 26 million people in the United States have diabetes. Seven million of them do not even know they have it. It's also estimated that nearly 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and that every 68 seconds someone develops AD. Since 2000, deaths from AD have risen 66%, while deaths from other diseases dropped. These numbers just keep rising.
These are stunning statistics about both diabetes and AD. Other interesting information includes the recent studies about how these two serious diseases are linked. People with diabetes, particularly diabetes type two, have a trouble with the insulin in their body. The insulin does not convert the sugar into energy. Because the body does not use insulin effectively, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. The buildup of sugar in the bloodstream contributes to memory loss. The sugar also affects brain structures, and prevents people from remembering and carrying out simple activities. There are several other theories about the relationship between the two diseases. One theory is that people who develop diabetes may also develop heart disease or strokes, which hurt blood vessels. When blood vessels are damaged in the brain, this can result in AD.
The link between the two diseases has many people wondering if insulin or diabetes medicines might help prevent or treat AD. One study showed that a diabetes drug increased the sensitivity to insulin, but did not necessarily improve thinking or memory in people with AD.
A more recent study done in Canada involves the diabetes drug named metformin. According to Freda Miller, the researcher of this study, metformin cause the brain cells to divide, producing new cells. This division of cells is thought to be responsible in the fixation of the brain. Patients that were started on the drug experienced improvements in their AD symptoms. There is still more research being conducted on how the division of brain cells is responsible for repairing the brain.
I took a CNA course in high school, and trained at Wesley Willows Nursing Home. At Wesley Willows, I had a lot of experience with elderly people that have AD. I know the seriousness of this progressive and incurable disease. I support the research that is being done, and think that the studies show that in the future there may actually be drugs to help prevent or treat AD.
For more information about the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, visit http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_diabetes.pdf. I encourage everyone to watch a short video on Alzheimer’s facts by visiting http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp. For information about the drug metformin, visit http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/07/06/diabetes-drug-may-someday-repair-alzheimer-damage/.