Hearing loss and high blood sugar linked to poorer learning and memory among older Latinos

December 17, 2020

Hearing loss and diabetes are major public health problems, with Latinos at higher risk than other demographic groups. In a new study published December 17, 2020 in the online issue of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues elsewhere, report that hearing loss and high blood sugar are associated with poor cognitive performance among middle-aged and older Latinos.

Diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias. More recently, hearing loss has also been linked to increased risk for AD. However, few studies have investigated the combined relationships between cardiovascular disease risk, hearing loss and cognition.

As part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, more than 9,000 middle age and older Latinos (ages 45 to 74 years) underwent hearing examinations, extensive cardiovascular and diabetes testing and cognitive assessments. Participants include Central Americans, Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans residing in the Bronx, NY; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL and San Diego, CA.

Those who displayed hearing loss also included individuals with mild to severe levels of cognitive impairment.

"Initially, we thought that the relationships between hearing loss and cognition would be overshadowed by high cardiovascular disease risk, but this was not the case," said first author Ariana M. Stickel, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

"This opens up promising avenues for interventions to reduce Alzheimer's disease risk. Evidence suggests that hearing aid use may be protective against cognitive declines for individuals with hearing loss, yet we also see that fewer than 5 percent of Latinos with hearing loss report using hearing aids. This is something we can change to help prevent cognitive declines, but it is going to take awareness on the part of health care providers and their patients."

The study also found that high cardiovascular disease risk is associated with poorer cognition.

"We were surprised to find that individuals with high blood sugar and otherwise average cardiovascular health are susceptible to poorer learning and memory, but only if they also had hearing loss," said senior author Hector M. González, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a member of the UC San Diego Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

Impairments in learning and memory occur in the preclinical stages of AD. González said the next step is to investigate what is happening within the brain.

"Is there a particular region or network in the brain that is susceptible to damage from both hearing loss and high blood sugar? Does this overlap with early brain changes due to Alzheimer's disease, and how might it be related to learning and memory," González said.

According to a new report by the Lancet Commission, there would be an 8 percent reduction in dementia prevalence globally if hearing loss alone is eliminated.

"Both hearing loss and diabetes can be modified," said Stickel. "Latinos are projected to have the highest increase in Alzheimer's disease and related dementia cases in the U.S. by 2060. Connecting our findings to public health solutions that work for Latinos can help mitigate the impending public health crisis."
-end-
Co-authors include: Wassim Tarraf and Raymond P. Viviano, Wayne State University; Kathleen E. Bainbridge, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Martha Daviglus, University of Illinois at Chicago; Sumitrajit Dhar, Northwestern University; and Franklyn Gonzalez II and Donglin Zeng, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

University of California - San Diego

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.