Protein presence in urine predicts risk for cognitive decline

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The presence of protein in the urine of those with diabetes can signify a risk for cognitive decline, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, Emory School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging wanted to see whether albuminuria, a kidney complication common in people with diabetes and characterized by protein excretion in urine, predicts cognitive decline in older adults with diabetes. They found that if the protein remains in a person's urine for four to five years, he or she has a higher chance of cognitive decline.

Persistent and progressive albuminuria can lead to more than a 5% decline in information processing speed scores. Often times, the researchers said, the decline was subtle, but over 10 to 15 years it could be noticeable.

The investigators looked at urine samples from close to 3,000 people with diabetes. The average age was 67.

The study was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

This finding coincides with the recent discovery that high blood sugar levels increase people's risk of dementia. People with diabetes that have a higher than average glucose level have a 40% higher risk, the study found.