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Older Type 1 Diabetics Fare Better Than Thought

Survey subjects have lived with the disease for 50 years or more

THURSDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who have lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more demonstrate fewer microvascular complications than expected, according to a survey-based cross-sectional study published in the August issue of Diabetes Care.

Hillary A. Keenan, Ph.D., of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, and colleagues evaluated questionnaires completed by 326 subjects living in the United States. More than half of the patients were female (54.7 percent), their median age was 69.5 years and their median age at diagnosis was 12.6 years.

Microvascular complications were reported by 53.4 percent (164 cases of neuropathy, 139 of retinopathy, 22 of nephropathy). Patients with complications had higher triglyceride and insulin dosages than those who did not, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Physical activity was associated with a lower risk of complications in those whose high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was below the median (65 mg/dL), but not in those above the median. The subjects' parents had a longer life expectancy than their peers, suggesting a possible genetic component.

"The Medalist Study showed that significant numbers of diabetic patients could live without severe complications for an extreme duration of the disease," the authors conclude, "suggesting that they may possess factors that can neutralize the adverse effects of hyperglycemia."

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