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Just a single serious episode of hypoglycemia may be enough to place a diabetic patient at increased risk of developing dementia, says a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, which looked at more than 16,000 patients with type II diabetes over 27 years, found that patients who were hospitalized for an episode of hypoglycemia had a risk of dementia 26 percent higher than those who had never been hospitalized. That risk increase became 80 percent after two episodes and almost doubled, a 94 percent risk increase, after three episodes.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Alan M. Jacobson, a researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said that "To see an effect after just one episode is remarkable."
The researchers noted that it was unclear whether there was a risk of dementia after a minor blood sugar drop, one that didn't result in a hospital visit.
The NIH estimate that 23.6 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and the Alzheimer's Association estimates there are 5.3 million people affected by Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.
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