11 April 2016

Alice Klein

Type 1 diabetes patients are still falling through the cracks and dying 12 years earlier than the rest of the Australian population, research reveals.

The yawning life-expectancy gap may be due to complacency about acute complications in younger type 1 diabetes patients, as well as an underappreciation of the increased risks of heart disease, stroke and blood vessel disease in older patients, say endocrinologists.

Type 1 diabetes patients have a life expectancy of 69 years, which is 12 years lower than the general population, according to a study of more than 80,000 patients listed on the National Diabetes Services Scheme between 1997 and 2010.

Among patients aged 10-39, the major causes of death are hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), diabetic coma, diabetic ketoacidosis, diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease) and other metabolic and endocrine disorders.

In contrast, type 1 diabetes patients aged 40 and above are most likely to die of cardiovascular disease, the study shows.

According to senior author Associate Professor Jonathan Shaw, the results suggest that cardiovascular disease should be managed more aggressively in type 1 diabetes patients.

This may require starting blood pressure lowering and lipid lowering therapy somewhat younger in type 2 diabetes patients, say in their 50s rather than 60s.

Type 1 diabetes patients also have a significantly higher risk of developing cancer, the study shows.

Professor Shaw says this highlights the importance of adhering strictly to cancer screening guidelines in people with type 1 diabetes.

Last Reviewed: 11/04/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from 6minutes.com.au.


Life expectancy of type 1 diabetic patients during 1997–2010: a national Australian registry-based cohort study