A Canadian study has revealed that people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (the first cause of mortality worldwide) 15 years sooner than non-diabetics. Diabetics in their 40’s and non-diabetics that are 15 year older appear to have a similar risk of stroke and myocardial infarction.
According to the Ontario researchers, diabetic men and women would see their cardiovascular risk go from moderate to high around age 48 and 54 respectively. In the general population, this change usually occurs 15 years later.
In addition, younger diabetics appear to be 12 to 40 times more at risk of cardiovascular disease than their same age counterparts, but the actual risk remains low in this age group.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use it efficiently (type 2 diabetes). Diabetes damages small blood vessels, which could lead to kidney, eye or nerve problems. About 40% of Canadians with diabetes will eventually suffer from such complications.
These data are perturbing since it is estimated that over two million Canadians suffer from diabetes, one in three not knowing about it. Unfortunately, with the average weight of the general population increasing, so is the number of people coping with type 2 diabetes (there is a link between this type of diabetes and obesity).
Aggressive treatment, particularly through lifestyle changes, can help prevent cardiovascular disease and delay diabetes progression. In diabetics as in the general population, keeping a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and healthy eating habits is the cornerstone of therapy, but in some diabetics, preventive drug therapy may also be recommended.