What is Metabolic Memory and How Does It Affect Diabetes?

”Metabolic memory” (less commonly known as ”hyperglycemic memory” or “legacy effect”) refers to the lingering effects of a long period of either poorly controlled or tightly controlled blood glucose levels, even once such control is either improved or lessened.

Well-Controlled Diabetes

In 2014, at an American Diabetes Association convention, results of an ongoing study called EDIC (Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications) were released which showed that maintaining careful control of blood sugar levels over a number of years could lead to reduced cardiovascular disease in Type 1 diabetics. In fact, according to the study, for every 1% reduction in A1c levels, a corresponding 20% reduction in cardiovascular risk could be anticipated.

Researchers showed that patients with an A1c of 7% for six and a half years had a 57% reduced incidence of heart attacks and strokes, as compared to those with a sustained A1c of 9% for a similar amount of time. Importantly, this benefit continued even as those with the lower A1c lessened control in later years. The benefits appear to be the same for small blood vessel (microvascular) damage and large blood vessel (macrovascular) damage.

These studies were the follow-up to a large scale study of more than 1,400 type 1 diabetics known as the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT). More than 90% of those who participated in the concluded first trial opted to join the second trial.

While these studies were done with type 1 diabetes patients, it is suggested that type 2 diabetes patients would benefit as much from similar periods of very tight control over their blood glucose levels.

The findings are specific to cardiovascular disease prevention. There is no indication that other possible outcomes of the disease are prevented.

Poorly-Controlled Diabetes

On the other hand, the effects of persistent hyperglycemia, even once corrected, can continue to contribute to other areas of vascular damage. This is also being referred to as metabolic memory or hyperglycemic memory.

A review of several studies, published as an abstract in the June 2012 issue of the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice looked at research on the causes of Diabetic Retinopathy (DR.) DR is the result of damage to the fine blood vessels in the eye, and the article points to the continuing damage to these blood vessels from prolonged hyperglycemia, even after good control has been achieved.

Both of these findings are under serious study, in the hope that molecular therapeutics may be the key to prevention of these negative outcomes.

Sources: National Institutes of Health, Clinical Diabetes, Science Direct
Photo: Pexels

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

High blood sugar levels can spell danger for a diabetic, especially if you're unprepared. Classic symptoms of high blood sugar include extreme...

Depression is a mood disorder that causes you to feel sadness and lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. The symptoms of depression...

Ideally, we would go out to our garden and pick the produce we need for each day’s meals, but that scenario is far from reality for most of us....

Matcha tea is a rich, creamy, full-bodied beverage with amazing nutritional properties that address several diabetes health concerns. The trace...

Most of us do not regularly keep the fruit that scientists call Fortunella margarita in our refrigerator. That these small, yellow-orange...

More Articles

A mood is an internal state or condition of feeling. It colors everything else we experience, much like colored sunglasses add a tint to...

There’s something inherently playful about bouncing, which is why so many people enjoy rebounding. Rebounding, or exercising on a mini-trampoline...

Ideally, we would go out to our garden and pick the produce we need for each day’s meals, but that scenario is far from reality for most of us....

Gestational diabetes is a condition characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels during the condition...

Depression is a mood disorder that causes you to feel sadness and lose interest in activities that you once enjoyed. The symptoms of depression...

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, getting enough exercise is crucial for improving insulin resistance and maintaining overall health....

As the summer months come to an end, we throw aside our swimsuits and bring out our favorite team jerseys! In America, fall means football, and...

Although diabetes is common, many people who have been diagnosed do not completely understand how it develops or whether it is hereditary....

Diabetes can seem to have an almost limitless list of symptoms. Now headaches are added to the list. The ebb...

A diabetes meal plan is a guide indicating what types of foods, and how much of them, people should eat at meal and snack time. Following a meal...

Modern fitness culture has popularized a wide range of high-intensity activities, from Crossfit and spin-class to marathon running and exercise...

Most of us do not regularly keep the fruit that scientists call Fortunella margarita in our refrigerator. That these small, yellow-orange...

The human body needs chromium, a trace mineral, for several essential functions including the normalizing of...

Having elevated blood sugar can damage our body’s nerves over time.

Diabetic neuropathy is the generic term for all...

Danica, better known by her YouTube username, DiabeticDanica, has had Type 1 diabetes...