Diabetes Death Rates Drop

Type 2 diabetes deaths related to heart disease and stroke declined in past decade

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) On average, diabetes cuts 10 years out of a patient's life. Many diabetes-related deaths are caused by heart disease. Fortunately, death rates among diabetes patients are going down.

Between 1997 and 2006, the death rate among adults with diabetes fell significantly, especially deaths related to heart disease.

"Stay active and eat healthy to protect your heart."

Diabetes remains one of the biggest health issues plaguing the United States. Thankfully, treatments have improved in recent years.

Despite the rise in diabetes rates, it appears patients are gaining better control of blood sugar and reducing their risk of heart disease and other diabetes complications.

Studies on specific regions in the United States have suggested that death rates of diabetes patients decreased in the 1990s. However, according to Edward W. Gregg, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues, "no national studies have examined mortality trends among the US diabetic population since the 1990s…"

In those years since the 1990s, there have been many advances in diabetes treatment. As such, it may be time to reassess death rates in this population.

In a recent study, Dr. Gregg and his fellow researchers from the CDC and National Institutes of Health set out to see if there was a drop in death rates among adults with and without diabetes. They specifically studied deaths related to heart disease and all causes.

They found that heart disease-related deaths among diabetic adults dropped by 40 percent. Deaths related to all causes dropped by about 23 percent.

Even though the risk of heart disease and death remains high among diabetes patients, their excess risk of death is much lower than in previous years, the authors write. These improved death rates line up with improvements in medical care, risks of complications, and the general health of people diagnosed with diabetes.

"Death rates among both U.S. men and women with diabetes declined substantially between 1997 and 2006, reducing the absolute difference between adults with and without diabetes," the authors conclude. "These encouraging findings, however, suggest that diabetes prevalence is likely to rise in the future if diabetes incidence is not curtailed."

As death rates continue to go down, it is likely that the total number of diabetes patients will rise. This means that a larger part of the population will have an increased risk of death.

The total number of people with diabetes is likely to rise unless unless we cut out the habits and factors that drive diabetes and put people at risk of the disease in the first place.

The study, which used data from almost 250,000 American adults, is published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
May 23, 2012
Last Updated:
August 3, 2012