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Cognitive function, affective state, and somatic symptoms related to blood sugar level Taylor, Lori Anne


In an attempt to find out whether decreased blood sugar level is associated with impaired cognitive function, adverse emotional changes, or somatic symptoms, 36 subjects who believed or suspected that they had hypoglycemia were given 5-hour glucose tolerance tests (GTTs). After each of the nine blood samples taken during the GTT, the subject's mood, performance on the Serial Sevens Test (SST), and somatic symptom reports were recorded. The subjects reported significantly more negative affect after glucose nadir (the lowest level of blood sugar reached) than before nadir, and endorsed more somatic symptoms after nadir than before nadir. SST performance deteriorated at glucose nadir. All of these effects were more pronounced for subjects with high hypoglycemic index scores than for subjects with low index scores. The index is calculated from the speed and magnitude of the decrease in blood sugar, and the absolute value of the nadir. The impairment in SST performance was greater for subjects who showed rapid decreases in blood sugar than for subjects who showed slow decreases. Dividing subjects by high and low nadirs, large and small magnitudes of decrease, and by large and small decreases below fasting level, did not reveal any differences in symptomatology. It is concluded that changes in mood, reports of somatic symptoms, and inferior performance on a mental arithmetic task are associated with lowered blood sugar levels, especially in subjects with high hypoglycemic index scores.

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