Associations between recent severe hypoglycemia, retinal vessel diameters, and cognition in adults with type 1 diabetes.

PubMed ID: 27601058

Author(s): Ryan CM, Klein BEK, Lee KE, Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R. Associations between recent severe hypoglycemia, retinal vessel diameters, and cognition in adults with type 1 diabetes. J Diabetes Complications. 2016 Nov – Dec;30(8):1513-1518. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2016.08.010. Epub 2016 Aug 14. PMID 27601058

Journal: Journal Of Diabetes And Its Complications, Volume 30, Issue 8, 2016

AIMS Mild cognitive dysfunction has been identified in children and adults with type 1 diabetes, but most studies have failed to find a relationship between severe hypoglycemia and cognition, despite reports of such associations in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Focusing on older adults with type 1 diabetes, we examined the associations between cognitive performance and recent episodes of severe hypoglycemia, retinal vessel diameters and the presence of micro- and macrovascular complications.

METHODS Cognitive functioning was assessed in 244 participants enrolled in the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy. The mean (SD; range) age at assessment in 2012-14 was 55.2 (8.3; 37-82) years and the mean (SD) duration of diabetes was 41.1 (5.6) years. Three cognitive domains were assessed in this cross-sectional study: mental efficiency and executive function, nonverbal memory, and verbal memory.

RESULTS Multivariate modeling demonstrated that although age and/or education are most strongly associated with performance on measures of mental efficiency, three diabetes-related variables were also associated with poorer test scores: an episode of severe hypoglycemia in the past year (β=-0.360 [95% CI, -0.672, -0.047]), retinal arteriolar and venular diameters (β=0.140 [95% CI, 0.062, 0.219]; β=-0.127 [95% CI -0.207, -0.047]), and carotid artery plaque (β=-0.372 [95% CI -0.741, -0.003]). In addition, recent severe hypoglycemia was associated with poorer nonverbal memory (β=-0.522 [95% CI, -0.849, -0.194]).

CONCLUSIONS For middle-aged and older adults with long-duration type 1 diabetes, poorer cognition was associated with a recent episode of severe hypoglycemia as well as with the presence of micro- and/or macrovascular conditions. Given the increasing numbers of aging adults with type 1 diabetes, future longitudinal studies are needed to identify causality and to determine whether diabetes management techniques that reduce the onset or severity of vascular complications and hypoglycemia can also reduce the risk of cognitive dysfunction in this population.

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