People with type 1 diabetes have shorter lives than those without the condition, a study by researchers at Dundee University and the Scottish Diabetes Research Network has shown.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that in 24,692 patients aged 20 or above in Scotland, the average loss of life expectancy was 11 years for women and 13 years for men. Additional life expectancy at the age of 20 was 46.2 years for men with diabetes, compared to 57.3 years among men without it. For women, the figure was an additional 48.1 years and 61.0 years for those without type 1 diabetes. The study also found that 76 per cent of men and 83 per cent of women without type 1 survived to age 70 years compared with 47 per cent of men and 55 percent of women with type 1 diabetes.
The study's authors suggested that life expectancy for diabetics has improved in recent years. They cited an American study which reported that the loss in life expectancy with type 1 diabetes was 27 years in 10,538 patients between 1951 and 1971, as well as an estimate of 20 years on the Diabetes UK website. However, they said that a true comparison of life expectancy could not be made because no historical data existed for a similar cohort.
Diabetes UK's director of health intelligence Simon O'Neill said: 'The suggested increase in life expectancy is likely due to the improvements we have seen in diabetes care over the last 20 to 30 years, such as home blood glucose testing, earlier detection of diabetes and management of complications of the condition.'
Ischaemic heart disease was cited as the greatest detriment to life expectancy, but risks associated with diabetic comas and ketoacidosis had a greater effect on patients aged under 50.