Diabetes is linked to a shorter life and an increase in disability. The findings uncovered that life expectancy in men and women at the age of 50 with diabetes is shortened by at least three years. Plus, only 13 years of their remaining life will be free of disability. Lead researcher Dianna Magliano said, “People with diabetes are spending a significant proportion of life with disability.”
Elevated blood sugar is associated with damage to the blood vessels, which can contribute to vision loss, movement problems, and amputations. Magliano added, “We need to undertake research to understand the mechanisms by which diabetes leads to disability. This will then help with the development of strategies to prevent disability in diabetes, which in turn may lead to more years lived disability-free.”
The researchers estimated life expectancy and years of disability using data from Australian diabetes and death registries.
The researchers found that diabetic males at the age of 50 can expect to live another 30 years, 17 of which with disability. A diabetic woman aged 50 can expect 34 more years of life, with 21 of them living with disability.
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center, who was not involved in the study, commented, “The worldwide epidemic of diabetes continues, so the findings from Australia are not surprising. The sad news is that the ones that are treated are not treated at goal, and less than half have their blood sugar controlled, and 80 to 90 percent are not treated for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.”
Zonszein suggests there is not enough policies put into place to treat diabetes early on in order to extend life expectancy and reduce the risk of disability.
Although type 1 diabetes is a condition you are born with, type 2 diabetes is very much preventable with healthy lifestyle habits, so it is not an inevitable part of aging. In the last decade, there has been a large jump in diabetes cases, so there is a lot of work to be done in order to keep those numbers down.