Brain Damage Type 1 Diabetes

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Brain Atrophy, Lesions Found In Type 1 Diabetics; May Indicate Cognitive Impairment In Diabetics Begins Early

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Cerebral atrophy is common in young persons with juvenile-onset diabetes, and there is evidence that small blood vessels within the brain's white matter are damaged in these patients, neurologists at the University at Buffalo and the University of Western Ontario have found. Both findings, which are preliminary, may be important in understanding the development of cognitive impairment seen in older diabetics, said Richard K.T. Chan, M.D., assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and first author on the study. Vladimir Hachinski, M.D., of the University of Western Ontario, is co-investigator. "Although brain involvement in diabetes has been suspected, this is the first study that approaches the problem in a systematic manner," Chan said. "Persons with type 1 diabetes comprise a unique population, because insulin was introduced only about 50 years ago. These people now are entering the golden years, and their quality of life can be significantly impacted by impaired brain function." Results of the research were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology held recently in Honolulu. Continue reading >>

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  1. Ailsa

    Over the years I have wondered if all the accumulating number of hypos can cause brain damage.
    A while back I noticed I had developed a tremor that my GP was convinced was Parkinsons. It seemed to be worse some days than others.
    The neurologist said it was definitely not Parkinsons but referred to it as essential tremor & speculated it might be due to hypos.
    I do get a lot of hypos even some are quite small 65 -68.
    Of course in the past on older insulins I got much more severe hypos and this has been going on a long while as I was diagnosed in 1966 as a child.
    Recently I have been under intensive management prior to going on a pump & the medical team’s main objective has been for me to have no hypos & let my bgs run a bit higher. The interesting thing has been that after 2 weeks of no hypos at all I began to think maybe I was imagining the severity of the tremor as it seemed to have either reduced or almost disappeared.
    Then whammo I must have got my pens mixed up & had a huge hypo .
    Several hours afterwards I noticed the tremor had returned & was much worse than before.
    This continued for the rest of the day & was accompanied as usual by a kind of jittery feeling, a bit like my brain is vibrating slightly. A friend who was around that evening asked me if I was ok as she noticed it & thought it looked a bit odd.
    Also I have noticed I am getting intermittent memory blanks when speaking, where the word I want just seems to evaporate into space. I do recall it eventually, but I find this concerning. I use the computer a lot & have noticed a huge number of typos that I no longer seem to pick up when I proof read. It has become embarrassing.
    I am convinced now the hypos are the cause & that I do have some level of brain damage.
    I don’t think much, if any study has been done on the long term effect of hypos as it is probably only the last 10 – 15 years that many people have had T1 for a long number of years.
    25 or more years ago there was no technology allowing any real control as such possible.
    All the focus since accurate blood testing became possible, not that long in the scheme of things, has been on T1s lowering their A1cs.
    Before Lantus or many people used pumps, it was proposed that the desirable A1c was around 54, but eventually that was suggested as a target to aim for only, as not many people could manage that on an ongoing basis or outside of a control group.
    Despite the above, a lot of us seem to have survived long term, with no side effects from running at higher levels than are aimed for today.
    The recommended targets are lower now, but it concerns me that with everyone focussing on how low they need to be, this might be at the expense of hypos causing damage instead as this seems not to have been considered.
    I figure I’ll be around another 20 – 25 years so don’t want to spend it in the dementia ward after escaping complications from high bgs.
    I think this is something we all need to be very aware of. I'll be interested to hear what anyone else thinks.
    Looking forward to getting my pump & Dexcom on Monday!

  2. ant hill

    Hello Ailsa, Congratulation in reaching 50 Years in this Disease. I am not too far behind you at 45 Years.
    I was diagnosed very late, Far too late. So untill today I may just say this story to an Endo as they just think Ohh Meh!!! as they herd it all before and they all say in 10 years there may be a Cure!!!
    LOL You have lived 5 of those as I have 4½ of those as I just wish to stop the echo from Endos saying that.
    I also don't want more complications.

  3. NoraWI

    Welcome to Diabetes Forums, Ailsa! If what you have IS essential tremor, also known as familial tremor, then it IS a minor issue that seems to run in families. My husband has always had a tremor which only affected his hands lightly. His mother had it to a greater degree. His sister had it worse and it also made her head shake. Her tremors got even worse as she got older to the point that she couldn't drink normally from a cup or glass and had to resort to straws. But this does not address your question. You want to know whether hypos can cause brain damage that manifests itself in a tremor. I believe that frequent highs (as well as the infrequent lows) BOTH have brain damaging effects. The health profession seems to feel it is safer to be high rather than low. They are truly panicked at the thought of lows because lows can cause immediate death while highs cause long range complications that make life miserable. I know of several poorly controlled T2s who with their doctors' approval kept higher A1cs than I thought was prudent. All of them developed various degrees of dementia in their later years. There are studies that draw parallels between brain damage in diabetics and Alzheimers. Some even call Alzheimers T3s. The point I am trying to make is that both lows and highs are bad for the brain. But I believe that the medical profession's preference for highs is making many diabetics, both T1 and T2, comfortable in ranges that can cause long term harm. With your new insulin pump and CGM you will be able to maintain a middle ground so far as BGs are concerned. And that's where you should strive to be. Good luck and keep us posted on how you do.

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