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How Type 1 diabetes lowers life expectancy

Type 1 diabetes. Copyright: <a href=''>veresproduction / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Type 1 diabetes can reduce life expectancy if onset occurs when the patient is young, claims a study recently published in The Lancet.

In India, diabetes numbers are surging. Disconcertingly, rates are increasing among India’s young population. It was recently revealed that around 97,000 children in India suffer from type 1 diabetes. In Delhi alone around 32 children per every 1,000 are affected by the disease.

The Lancet study presented results which indicate that life-expectancy for individuals with early-onset type 1 diabetes is, on average, sixteen years shorter than people without diabetes. Compared to people diagnosed later in life, an early-onset individual was found to have a reduction in life expectancy of around ten years.

“Diabetes numbers are surging. Disconcertingly, rates are increasing among India’s young population.”

The study, conducted in Sweden, used observational investigations that followed over 27,000 individuals with type 1 diabetes and more than 135,000 individuals in a matched control group for an average of ten years.

The findings of the study suggest that individuals diagnosed before the age of ten have a thirty-times greater risk of serious cardiovascular outcomes like heart attack. This was found to be lower than people diagnosed between ages 26 and thirty whose risk levels are around six times higher.

Additionally, early-onset type 1 diabetes sufferers are four times as likely to die from any cause, with seven times the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to their diabetes-free counterparts. Again, this difference was found to be less prominent in people with late onset diabetes with a three-fold risk of dying from any cause compared to their peers without diabetes.

The authors stress the requirement to use cardioprotective measures such as statins and blood pressure lowering drugs as soon as possible in this high-risk population.

In India, early intervention and therapies to address diabetes is vital. Evidence suggests that the Indian population is at a higher risk than that of most other countries due to a genetic predisposition to diabetes.

“In India, early intervention and therapies to address diabetes is vital”

The average age of onset of diabetes in India occurs between 25 and 34, nearly two decades before the age of onset in western nations. This indicates a considerable role for the genetic risk factor present in the Indian population. The genes involved have been proposed as mediators for insulin release. Any alterations in these genes could therefore play a large part in increasing the risk of developing diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes has been shown in studies to be increasing in prevalence by three to five percent per year in India. The results of the new study highlight the need for proper management of the disease through early intervention and appropriate lifestyle changes. Spreading awareness of the disease must also be a priority in order to address these rising numbers.

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