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People with diabetes are living longer, but death rates still outpace the general population

June 28, 2010 |  3:33 pm

People who have Type 1 diabetes are living longer, thanks to better treatment, but overall they still have far higher risks of mortality compared to the general population, says a new study.

Kffvsxnc Researchers examined data from the Allegheny County Type 1 Diabetes Registry that includes 1,100 people from that county who were diagnosed with the disease between 1965 and 1979. By January 2008, about a quarter of the people on the registry had died at a rate that was seven times higher than the general population. However, when the researchers looked at those who had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes most recently (from 1975 to 1979), they were only 5.5 times more likely to have died.

Despite those encouraging numbers, researchers found some discouraging news: Women with the disease were 13 times more likely to have died than similar women in the general population. Men fared better -- their death rates were five times higher than the general population.

Death rates were also broken down by race. Survival 30 years after being diagnosed with diabetes was 82% for Caucasians but only 52% for African Americans. In this instance, there were virtually no differences between genders.

"The more recent a person was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the less likely they were to die, suggesting the positive impact of advances made during the last few decades," said Aaron M. Secrest, lead author of the study, in a news release. The doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health added, "Even so, significant disparities in mortality remain and reveal a need for continuing improvements in diabetes treatment and care."

The study was presented at the Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Assn. being held this week in Orlando, Fla.

-- Jeannine Stein

Diabetics can keep track of their glucose levels through blood tests. Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times