~ Having Diabetes Is Like Aging 15 Years

A report published in the June 30, 2006 issue of The Lancet concluded that developing diabetes has the equivalent effect on cardiovascular health as aging 15 years.

Gillian L. Booth and colleagues at the University of Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences analyzed the majority of the adult population of Ontario for the current study. They recorded cardiovascular events between April of 1994 and March of 2000 for 379,003 individuals over the age of 20 with diabetes and 9,018,082 without the disease to calculate the age at which a high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) developed. The team found that diabetics transitioned into the high risk category 15 years earlier than nondiabetics. Heart attack, stroke, or death from any cause took place at an average of age 41 for diabetic men and at 48 for women with the disease, compared to an average age of 48 and 54 years for nondiabetic men and women.

Death rates within the five age groups analyzed were 2 to 4 times higher in diabetics compared to men and women who did not have diabetes. Although young diabetic adults had coronary heart disease rates that were 12 to 40 times higher than those of nondiabetics, the rates were low enough to avoid being considered high risk.

"Middle-aged and older people with diabetes seem on average to be at high risk of CVD, thus aggressive risk-reduction strategies are warranted for them," Dr Booth stated. "Appropriate thresholds for younger people with diabetes are less clear. At least in the short term, many individuals with diabetes who are younger than 40 years seem to have a low to moderate absolute risk of CVD. Age should be taken into account in targeting of risk reduction in people with diabetes."

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