Dementia is now a top killer disease in Australia
Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. Reuters/Edgard Garrido

Type 2 diabetics are at a greater risk of developing dementia, as compared to other people. According to an Australian research, they carry a 60 percent higher chance of ending up with dementia.

These are the findings of a study by researchers from Curtin University, Perth, Australia. The researchers analysed the link between type 2 diabetes and two forms of dementia. They found that women are at an even greater risk for vascular dementia, but the same is not true for non-vascular dementia.

The study, published in the online journal Diabetes Care, suggests that diabetes in women seems to lead to more risk for other conditions as well. It says that diabetics can reduce their chances of dementia through lifestyle changes, including healthy diet, more exercise and giving up on smoking and drinking.

The research was based on the analysis of 14 studies conducted over the last 10 years and covering 2.5 million people, reports the Express. “The take-home message is that for many people – with and without diabetes – dementia is not inevitable,” says study author Rachel Huxley.

The study findings were not clear about the factors behind the different impact of diabetes on vascular and non-vascular dementia (which included Alzheimer’s). However, according to Huxley, it could be because in Alzheimer's disease, nerve cells throughout the brain die off, and abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain for reasons not entirely known. “Vascular dementia, in contrast, is the result of impaired blood flow to the brain, usually by a series of small, imperceptible strokes,” Huxley explains.

“It’s plausible that the same mechanisms that drive the greater excess risk of heart disease and stroke in women with diabetes are also causing the excess risk of vascular dementia. It may also be that blood glucose levels in women with diabetes are much more difficult to control than in men with diabetes,” she added.