Type 2 diabetes mellitus, cognitive impairment and dementia

Diabet Med. 1999 Feb;16(2):93-112. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.1999.00027.x.


Aims: We set out to examine the evidence for an association between cognitive impairment or dementia and the presence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). We also sought evidence of potential mechanisms for such an association.

Methods: A literature search of three databases was performed and the reference lists of the papers so identified were examined, using English language papers only.

Results: We found evidence of cross-sectional and prospective associations between Type 2 DM and cognitive impairment, probably both for memory and executive function. There is also evidence for an elevated risk of both vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease in Type 2 DM albeit with strong interaction of other factors such as hypertension, dyslipidaemia and apolipoprotein E phenotype. Both vascular and non-vascular factors are likely to play a role in dementia in diabetes.

Conclusions: Current classification structures for dementia may not be adequate in diabetes, where mixed pathogenesis is likely. Further research into the mechanisms of cognitive impairment in Type 2 DM may allow us to challenge the concept of dementia, at least in these patients, as an irremediable disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors