MONDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A simple scoring system that
may predict the risk of dementia in seniors with type 2 diabetes
has been developed by researchers.
The system -- which scores patients based on their age, health
issues and education -- could help doctors closely monitor diabetes
patients at the highest risk of dementia and begin early treatment
if needed, said Dr. Rachel Whitmer and her colleagues at the Kaiser
Permanente Division of Research in California.
The researchers created the scoring system by examining data
from nearly 30,000 patients who were older than 60 and had type 2
diabetes. Nearly one in five (17 percent) of the patients developed
dementia over a decade.
The researchers identified 45 risk factors for dementia, and
used sophisticated statistical methods to analyze the patients'
medical records and identify the risk factors that most strongly
predicted the onset of dementia.
Age, education level and six different diabetes-related health
complications (acute metabolic event, microvascular disease,
diabetic foot, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease and
depression) were determined to be the most important predictors of
The researchers incorporated these factors into an easy-to-use
point system that places patients in one of 14 categories. The
lowest score (-1) indicates the lowest risk of dementia and the
highest scores (12 to 19) indicate the highest risk.
Patients with the highest scores were 37 times more likely to
develop dementia within 10 years than those with the lowest scores,
and patients with higher scores developed dementia more quickly
than those with lower scores, according to an article published
online Aug. 20 in the journal
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
The researchers then tested the scoring system in another group
of older patients with type 2 diabetes, and found that it
accurately predicted their risk of developing dementia.
Scoring systems have been developed to predict the risk of
dementia in other groups of patients, but this is the first one to
predict the risk of dementia in people with diabetes, the
"Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of both type 2 diabetes and
dementia, and the link between these two illnesses portends a
possible public health crisis," Whitmer said in a journal news
"Generally, risk scores might be useful in the identification of
individuals who should be monitored for disease symptoms, selection
of high-risk individuals for clinical trials, targeting of
preventive interventions toward those at greatest risk, and
assessment of the effectiveness of an intervention at reducing the
risk of future illness," Dr. Anna-Maija Tolppanen, of the
University of Eastern Finland, wrote in an accompanying
"[This new scoring system] might be useful for clinicians for
the first purpose, but clinical trial data on effective preventive
interventions for dementia are currently lacking," Tolppanen
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about