The Link Between Diabetes, Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease

John Gray

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "dementia is an umbrella term for a group of cognitive disorders typically characterized by memory impairment, as well as marked difficulty in the domains of language, motor activity, object recognition, and disturbance of executive function — the ability to plan, organize, and abstract."

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. The fatal brain disease that steals memory and personality and it's becoming a leading factor of death. Every 68 seconds, another American develops Alzheimer's disease. However, it may be even more.

Research published in Neurology, found that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are under-reported on death certificates and medical records. Currently, Alzheimer's disease is 5 or 6 on the list of leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (Heart disease and cancer are numbers one and two, respectively.) 

Alzheimer’s is a complex and difficult disease. In the late stages of the condition, patients sufferer from loss of appetite, and lose the ability to to communicate verbally, move without assistance, and recognize family members and friends. However death typically comes as a result from aspiration, pneumonia, infection, or coronary arrest.

The widely accepted theory of Alzheimer's says that protein beta-amyloid forms plaque outside neurons in the brain. This plaque somehow causes the production of abnormal tau tangles inside neurons. This interferes with synapses - the information connections between neurons that create memory and other mental activity.

There is also the theory that normal mental function depends on a balance betwen synaptoblastic (synapse-making) and synaptoclastic (synapse-destroying) activity. If there is more synaptoclastic activity, memory loss may occur. If there is chronic synaptoclastic activity, then Alzheimer's may occur. 

Dale Bredesen, MD, the director of the Mary S. Eaton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA and the founding president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, supports this more modern theory. He explains, "Synapse-making and synapse-destroying factors function in a 'loop' that develops momentum, like a snowball rolling downhill. In the synapse-­destroying momentum of Alzheimer’s, you gradually lose memories, ultimately even basic ones such as the faces of loved ones." 

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