News & Commentary

Diabetes soars, but complications dive

From 1990 to 2010, the number of adults in the United States with diabetes tripled, from 6.5 million to 20.7 million, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. That’s bad. What’s good is the steep drop in complications over the same period. Researchers credit preventive care for a 68% decrease in deaths from heart attack and a 64% drop in deaths from high blood sugar. Data were collected from various sources, including the National Health Interview Survey and the National Hospital Discharge Survey.

Outcomes were reviewed for lower-extremity amputation, acute myocardial infarction, stroke, end-stage renal disease, and death from hyperglycemic crisis.

“These findings probably reflect a combination of advances in acute clinical care, improvements in the performance of the health care system, and health promotion efforts directed at patients with diabetes,” the study states.

It adds, “The greatest declines in diabetes-related complications, in both absolute and relative terms, were observed among persons 75 years of age or older, except in the case of end-stage renal disease.”

Trends in age-standardized rates of diabetes-related complications among U.S. adults with diagnosed diabetes, 1990–2010

Source: “Changes in Diabetes-Related Complications in the United States, 1990–2010,” New England Journal of Medicine, April 17, 2014


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