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Increased Mortality Seen in Older Diabetics

Even when diabetes is treated, older adults are twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease

FRIDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Compared to older non-diabetic adults, older diabetics have a significantly increased risk of death, including a twofold higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease, even when their diabetes is treated, according to a study published in the October issue of the open-access journal PLoS-Medicine.

Joshua I. Barzilay, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia and Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a 12-year study of 5,888 adults aged 65 and older, including 5,372 non-diabetics, 322 diabetics treated with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHGAs) and 194 diabetics treated with insulin.

Compared to non-diabetics, the researchers found that diabetics treated with either OHGAs or insulin had higher risks for total mortality (hazard ratios, 1.33 and 2.04, respectively), cardiovascular disease mortality (HR, 1.99 and 2.16, respectively), coronary heart disease mortality (HR, 2.47 and 2.75, respectively), and infectious and renal mortality (HR, 1.35 and 6.55, respectively). They also found an especially high mortality risk in older women treated with insulin.

"These data confirm that older adults with diabetes are at very high absolute risk of death from cardiovascular causes (4 to 5 percent per year)," state the authors of an accompanying editorial. "Thus, strategies aimed at reducing these risks should be aggressively pursued among such individuals, wherever possible."

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