Study Estimates Diabetes Could Result in a Loss of 6.4 Million Years of Life in the UK

A recent study in the UK that estimated the amount of life lost from type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the country’s population found that the loss amounted to approximately 6.4 million years of future life in the current population.

A recent study in the UK that estimated the amount of life lost from type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the country’s population found that the loss amounted to approximately 6.4 million years of future life in the current population.1,2

Separated by disease type, the mortality data used from 2015 demonstrated that 1.7 million years are lost for type 1 and 4.3 million years for type 2 diabetes each year. However, the scientists noted that these numbers would most likely be much higher in 2020 due to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1,2

The data scientists at the University of Manchester also analyzed the impact of the disease on life expectancy based on national mortality data in the UK. Based on the data, they estimated that the average age of someone with type 1 diabetes is 42.8 years old, with that person having an expected 32.6 more years of life ahead of them. However, a person who does not have diabetes at the same age could expect to live for 40.2 more years.1,2

For type 2 diabetes, the average age of a person with the disease was estimated to be 65.4 years old, with that person expecting to live another 18.6 years. A person who does not have type 2 diabetes at the same age could expect to live 20.3 more years.1,2

Furthermore, the team estimated that type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients with hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) that is greater than 58 mmol/mol for 1 year could lose approximately 100 days from their estimated life expectancy.1,2

The results also highlighted that these losses would be greater for women than men, although the scientists noted that they were still uncertain of the cause for this discrepancy.1,2

"This study highlights the importance of early effective engagement and long-term management in patients with diabetes. And it's especially important as numbers of people diagnosed with diabetes are on the rise, as well as in light of the link between diabetes and COVID-19 deaths. We hope our linking of poor glycemic control to expected mortality in such a quantitative way will be helpful to both clinicians and people with diabetes,” said Adrian Heald, MD, professor at The University of Manchester and consultant physician in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Salford Royal, in a press release.2

The researchers also noted that their analysis did not consider factors such as smoking, inactivity, obesity, hypertension, and use of statins, which they plan to assess in a future study. However, they explained that they expect blood sugar level to remain a strong independent determinant of mortality based on the results of their data analysis.1

"Knowing the risks of poor control of blood sugars will bring home its importance and will support clinicians and patients in their efforts to achieve their targets," Heald said.2

REFERENCES

  • Heald A, Stedman M, Davies M, et al. Estimating life years lost to diabetes. Cardiovascular Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2020. doi: 10.1097/XCE.0000000000000210.
  • Diabetes diagnoses could result in loss of 6 million life years [news release]. Manchester, UK: University of Manchester; June 9, 2020. medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-diabetes-result-loss-million-life.html. Accessed June 10, 2020.