This risk also appears to be heightened among people with prediabetes -- people who are on the verge of developing diabetes.
Exactly how diabetes and dementia are linked is not fully understood. But the new findings add to growing evidence that what is good for our hearts may also be good for our brains.
The study is published in Neurology.
In the study, 1,017 people 60 and older were given a glucose tolerance test to see if they had diabetes or prediabetes. Researchers from Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, followed the participants for around 11 years and then tested them for dementia.
Forty-one of 150 people with diabetes developed dementia. By contrast, 115 of the 559 people without diabetes developed dementia. An increased risk of dementia was also found in people with prediabetes.
Zoe Arvanitakis, MD, says many questions remain regarding the "intriguing" relationship between diabetes and dementia. Arvanitakis is a neurologist at the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
For starters, how are the two conditions linked? There are some plausible explanations, she says. Diabetes is known to increase stroke risk, and strokes can lead to mental problems and dementia.
If you lower your risk for diabetes, might you prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease or other types of age-related dementia?
It is too early to say that, but "food that is good for the heart is also good for the brain," Arvanitakis says.
Some of the same heart-healthy habits that help lower diabetes risk, such as getting regular exercise and not smoking, may also improve the health of your brain. "It's too premature to say if you prevent diabetes, you would not develop dementia," she says.
There are other things beside diabetes and prediabetes that may increase risk for dementia, such as family history. "The mechanism linking diabetes and dementia still needs to be sorted out," Arvanitakis tells WebMD. "It is important to stay healthy and prevent vascular risk factors from getting out of hand. If you have diabetes, get your blood sugar under control."
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.