Diabetes shortens patients’ lives by up to 13 years, study finds

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

People over 45 with type 1 diabetes have their lives cut short by an average of 13 years compared to those without the disease, according to new research.

The joint study by the public health agency RIVM and Nivel, commissioned by the Diabetes Fonds, found that people with the hereditary condition were five times more likely to die between the ages of 40 and 75.

For people with type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, the risk of dying early is twice as high and life expectancy is four years shorter on average.

The difference is mainly due to type 2 diabetes occurring later in life, with the average patient diagnosed at the age of 60 compared to 35 for the less common type 1, meaning the latter affects people’s health from an earlier age.

Rens Vandeberg, head of knowledge and innovation at the Diabetes Fonds, said the figures were worrying, especially as the number of people in the Netherlands with type 2 diabetes is forecast to rise from 1.2 million to 1.4 million in the next 20 years. The condition already accounts for a quarter of all deaths of people over the age of 45.

‘Blood sugar accumulates in the body and that damages veins and nerves, which causes heart and arterial disease,’ he told NPO Radio 1. ‘These diseases in particular have a huge impact on life expectancy and we see that reflected in the figures.’

Vandeberg said the risk of developing the more common type 2 later in life could be prevented by lifestyle changes. ‘We can all do something about it by eating healthier, exercising more and getting enough rest, and also making sure that the environment we live in is a healthy environment.’

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