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New research has found damage to blood vessels caused by diabetes could also be linked to a higher risk of dementia.

A study that looked at nearly 2.5million people, including 102,000 people with dementia, has found a link between women with type 2 diabetes and vascular dementia.

The research, published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that women had a nearly 20 per cent higher risk of developing vascular dementia if they already had type 2 diabetes.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in the UK and is caused when a lack of blood supply to the brain (usually caused by a series of mini strokes) leads to damage of the blood cells there, and causing memory problems and difficulty finding the right words.

However, the research also discovered that the risk for any form of dementia was the same for both sexes – about 60 percent higher for diabetics than for people without the disease.

Study author Rachel Huxley, head of the School of Public Health at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, said:

‘It’s plausible that the same mechanisms that drive the greater excess risk of heart disease and stroke in women with diabetes … are also causing the excess risk of vascular dementia.

‘We still don’t fully understand why women with diabetes are at excess risk of vascular disease and it may be related to sex hormones. It may also be that blood glucose levels in women with diabetes are much more … difficult to control than in men with diabetes.

Health professionals frequently recommend that dementia risk can be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle, including quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, eating healthily and taking exercise.

‘The take-home message is that for many people – with and without diabetes – dementia is not inevitable,’ says Huxley. ‘Maintaining a healthy weight, watching what you eat and keeping your brain fit and active are some of the things that may reduce future risk of dementia. There’s some truth in the adage, “A healthy body equals a healthy mind.”’

For more tips on how lifestyle factors can affect your memory, click here.