Diabetes Increases Death Risk for Elderly

It means more premature deaths among those 65 and older, study says

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WEDNESDAY, June 2, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Diabetes greatly increases premature deaths among people 65 and older, says a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study.

The study of 148,519 people found the death rate among people 65 and older was 10 percent per year among those with diabetes and 6 percent per year among those without diabetes.

Diabetes increased the risk of death by about 60 percent in blacks, by 80 percent in whites, and by more than 100 percent among Hispanics and Native Americans.

"The main implication of our findings is that diabetes-related mortality may be expected to increase in relative importance compared to other causes of death in the elderly, given recent trends of increasing diabetes prevalence," researcher Dr. Alain G. Bertoni said in a prepared statement.

"These new findings suggest that prevention of diabetes among the elderly should be a priority. The Diabetes Prevention Program has shown that diabetes in high-risk individuals can be prevented," Bertoni said.

The program promotes modest weight loss and physical activity and has achieved a 71 percent reduction in diabetes among people age 60 and older, compared to people who the same age who made no changes to their normal lifestyles.

The study appears in the online edition of the Annals of Epidemiology.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about diabetes.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, June 2004

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