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Diabetes-related foot problems may cause memory loss

Friday 18th December 2015
Diabetics with foot problems may be more likely to experience memory loss, according to new research. Image: iStock/Wavebreakmedia
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People with diabetes who are diagnosed with related foot problems are significantly more likely than their healthier counterparts to experience memory loss, according to a new study.

Research carried out by doctors at the Ben-Gurion University of Negev in Israel led to the discovery that patients with diabetic foot often also suffer from cognitive impairment and may be at an increased risk of developing degenerative conditions, such as dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

If diabetes is not managed effectively, extensive irreversible nerve damage can affect the hands and feet, due to high blood sugar levels making it difficult for these parts of the body to receive the supply they require to function properly. As a result, patients can develop ulcers, infections and may even need an amputation.

Lead author of the new study Dr Rachel Natovich estimated that diabetics have a 25 per cent chance of developing a foot ulcer during their lifetime, before discovering that these patients are also at greater risk of suffering from memory loss.

Along with a team of researchers, she monitored the cognitive abilities of patients both before and after they developed diabetic foot, finding that their memory, concentration, learning speed, psycho-motor responses and verbal communication skills all deteriorated following the development of diabetes-related foot ulcers.

Dr Natovich commented: "This study demonstrate that diabetic foot refers not only to a physical condition, but rather to a more generalised complex state involving significant cognitive changes as well.

"This new information is an important contribution to the healthcare of these patients due to their increased risk for medical complications and the unique challenge that they present to healthcare providers."

She added that patients who are diagnosed with diabetic foot may benefit from group treatment alongside others who have the same condition, as this will help to keep their brains stimulated with people in a similar situation to themselves in a bid to prevent their memories from worsening further.

It would also provide medical professionals including podiatrists and dieticians to educate patients on how they can improve the management of their diabetes through their diet, exercise and better monitoring of their blood sugar levels.

Written by Angela Newbury

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