Cognitive deficits associated with impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionDiabetologia. 2017, 60 (6), 971-979. 10.1007/s00125-017-4233-3
Aims/hypothesis The aim of this study was to compare cognitive function in adults with type 1 diabetes who have impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia with those who have normal awareness of hypoglycaemia. A putative association was sought between cognitive test scores and a history of severe hypoglycaemia. Methods A total of 68 adults with type 1 diabetes were included: 33 had impaired and 35 had normal awareness of hypoglycaemia, as confirmed by formal testing. The groups were matched for age, sex and diabetes duration. Cognitive tests of verbal memory, object-location memory, pattern separation, executive function, working memory and processing speed were administered. Results Participants with impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia scored significantly lower on the verbal and object-location memory tests and on the pattern separation test (Cohen’s d −0.86 to −0.55 [95% CI −1.39, −0.05]). Participants with impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia had reduced planning ability task scores, although the difference was not statistically significant (Cohen’s d 0.57 [95% CI 0, 1.14]). Frequency of exposure to severe hypoglycaemia correlated with the number of cognitive tests that had not been performed according to instructions. Conclusions/interpretation Impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia was associated with diminished learning, memory and pattern separation. These cognitive tasks all depend on the hippocampus, which is vulnerable to neuroglycopenia. The findings suggest that hypoglycaemia contributes to the observed correlation between impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia and impaired cognition.