Type 1 diabetes patients constantly go through a grueling process of trying to control and count their sugar intake daily while also staying in line with their insulin injections and medications. If they do not follow this strict regimen the consequences could be dire. But a new study shows good news for these patients and their lifespans.
Reuters reports on the new study. New data shows that the life expectancy rates for type 1 diabetes patients have seriously improved.
People suffering from type 1 diabetes are known to die earlier than the average person due to the effect that the disease has on a person’s pancreas. But the new study shows that perhaps these people do not die that much earlier than others as has been previously thought. The study found that on average, people with type 1 diabetes die 11 to 13 years earlier than people without the condition.
Dr. Colhoun, who led the study, told Reuters, “An important message is that the difference in life expectancy is narrowing. It’s not zero. The goal is to get it to zero. Among people with type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin removes sugar from the bloodstream so it can be used for energy.”
These patients need to inject insulin and pay special attention to their blood sugar – or glucose – levels all day. If they leave their body untreated then type 1 diabetes can lead to heart, blood vessel, kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Around five percent of those people have type 1 diabetes.
The research team wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that according to earlier studies done in the United Kingdom, people there with type 1 diabetes died an average of 15 to 20 years earlier than non-diabetics. A report conducted in the 1970s put the decrease in life expectancy at twenty-seven years for type 1 diabetics in the United States, and a 1980s report from New Zealand put it at sixteen and a half years. But these reports are now dated and the new study is said to show how far type 1 diabetes car has come.
How was the new study conducted?
Reuters explains, “The researchers used national data from Scotland on 24,691 people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes from 2008 to 2010. From that data, they estimated that men with type 1 diabetes would live about 11 fewer years than men without the condition. Women with type 1 diabetes would live about 13 fewer years than those without the condition. At age 20, for example, people with type 1 diabetes could expect to live, on average, to age 66 (for men) or 68 (for women). Those without type 1 diabetes, however, would on average live to ages 77 (for men) or 81 (for women).”
The researchers were surprised to find that even among people with type 1 diabetes and preserved kidney function (who apparently took care of themselves) there was still around an eight year gap in life expectancy.
What was the biggest factor in life expectancy?
The researchers say it was heart disease. But people who died under the age of fifty were more likely to have fairly uncommon problems such as diabetic coma.
Dr. Colhoun said, “It’s important to stress that these are averages. Some people with type 1 diabetes will achieve a very long life expectancy and some people will have a short life expectancy. These are estimates. The new results emphasize the need for people with type 1 diabetes to have tight control of their blood sugar levels. Additionally, they should control their risk factors for heart disease.”
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