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Hypoglycemia Doesn’t Harm Intellect

Recurring episodes of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar that are severe enough to cause a loss of consciousness or seizures do not appear to affect intellectual (cognitive) function, according to results of a long-term study. Investigators at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, Massachusetts presented the results of the study during the session of the American Diabetes Association.

Researchers studied more than 18 years of follow-up data on 1,509 patients enrolled in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and subsequently followed in the Epidemiology of Diabetes Intervention and Complications (EDIC) study.

It was shown in the DCCT that tight blood sugar control reduced the risk of long-term complications, including blindness, kidney disease and neurological decline, but increased the likelihood of severe hypoglycemia.

To date, it was reported that 348 patients in the study have had one to five episodes of severe hypoglycemia and 59 patients have had more than five and up to 23 episodes of severe low blood sugar during the study period. These same patients were asked to complete a cognitive function test at the beginning and at the end of the study. It was found that changes in scores were unrelated to history of hypoglycemia.

Researchers say that typical episodes, including even those that are severe enough to cause coma or seizures and those that last many minutes in duration, have no effect on cognitive function and no additive effect over time.

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