Researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands have developed a risk score that predicts the 10-year risk of dementia for type 2 diabetes patients.

The researchers developed and validated the Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score by examining data from nearly 30,000 patients with type 2 diabetes aged 60 and older over a 10-year period. They found eight factors that were most predictive of dementia—including microvascular disease, diabetic foot and cerebrovascular disease—and assigned each a value related to their association with dementia to create an overall score for patients.

(Study shows the high lifetime costs of type 2 Diabetes)

The researchers found that individuals in the lowest category of the 20-point risk score had a 5.3%  chance of developing dementia over the next 10 years, while those in the highest category had a 73% chance. Compared with those in the lowest category, those in the highest were 37 times more likely to get dementia, according to the study published in the journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

"Patients with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia as those without the disease, but predicting who has the highest future risk is difficult," said Rachel Whitmer, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., who led the study.  "While a few dementia risk scores exist, this is the first one that has been developed specifically for individuals with type 2 diabetes and encompasses diabetes-specific characteristics."