Onset of Type 2 Diabetes in Adults Aged 40 or Younger Increases Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Researchers found that patients diagnosed with early-onset type 2 diabetes have a greater risk of premature death than the general population.

Patients aged 40 years or younger who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D) were found to have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the general population of the same age, according to a study published in Diabetologia.

Patients with early-onset diabetes were found to have be 5 times more likely to develop heart disease or die from CVD compared to non-diabetics. They were also found 7 times more likely to be diagnosed with heart failure.

“Our findings clearly highlight the serious health implications of developing type 2 diabetes at a young age and the importance of efforts to prevent diabetes in early life,” said lead author Da Hea Seo, of the Inha University School of Medicine, South Korea, in a press release.

T2D is the most common form of diabetes. Although it is most common among middle-aged and older individuals, an increasing number of young adults have been diagnosed with onset T2D. It is also a more aggressive type of the disease that leads to higher rates of hospitalizations and complications.

Because CVD is a major cause of death, researchers evaluated whether there is a relationship between age of T2D diagnosis and CVD complications and death.

The research team examined the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database to identify 634,350 patients diagnosed with T2D between 2012 and 2014. The team compared these patients against 1,268,700 controls from the general Korean population, examining factors such as age, gender, and CVD history.

Seo and team then analyzed the risk of CVD outcomes—death from any cause, death from CVD, coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or hospitalization for heart failure—in patients with young-onset T2D until 2019. They adjusted results for prior CVD history, heart failure, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Age was suggested to be a strong risk factor for CVD complications in young adults. Compared to the general population, those aged 40 years or less were most likely to have relative risk of complications.

“In this large, population-based cohort study, being younger at the time of T2D diagnosis was associated with a higher relative risk of death and cardiovascular disease complications compared to those in the same group without diabetes,” said co-author Seong Bin Hong, from the Inha University School of Medicine, South Korea, in the press release.

After 6 years of follow-up, 172,120 patients with early-onset T2D had a heart attack, stroke, or died from CVD compared to 151,363 controls, which amounted to 40% and 23% among each population, respectively. The researchers also note the older a person is at diagnosis, the less likely they are to have these risks.

“Caring for young people with diabetes, which has traditionally focused on type 1 diabetes, should place more emphasis on type 2 diabetes,” Bin Hong said in the press release. “What’s more, effective health-care policies around screening, early diagnosis and treatment will help to combat the future rise of cardiovascular disease in this increasingly common young-onset, high-risk population.”

This was an observational study that cannot determine causation. Additionally, the study was limited by a short follow-up and a South Korea-specific demographic, according to the authors.

Reference

Diabetologia. Young-onset type 2 diabetes linked to substantially higher relative risk of cardiovascular disease and death, finds study of 1.9 million adults. EurekAlert. September 6, 2022. Accessed on September 7, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/963791