Long Term Diabetes Can Triple Risk of Stroke

Doctors have always known that diabetes brings an increased risk of strokes, along with a raft of other serious complications.  However, a new study has revealed that having the disease can actually triple the risk in the long term.  With the disease affecting younger and younger people in the western world, this has serious implications for health and longevity.

Diabetes occurs in several forms, the commonest being types 1 and 2.  While type 1 happens unexpectedly to some individuals, usually in childhood or early adulthood, type 2 occurs because of factors such as weight gain and poor eating.  Type 2 is by far the commonest form of the disease, accounting for around 90% of cases, and it affects 26 million people in the US alone.

Once seen as a disease of old age, it is increasing in leaps and bounds as our western lifestyles – with consumption of processed and junk foods and lack of exercise – take their toll.  In recent years type 2 diabetes has even been found in children as the obesity epidemic spreads to younger people.

In both forms of diabetes the high and fluctuating levels of sugar in the blood cause mayhem in the body’s organs and functioning, and an increased risk of strokes, heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and severe nerve damage are the result.  Diabetes is also the top cause of surgical amputation, as the nerve damage may cause gangrene.

Researchers examined data from 3,298 patients from a range of ethnic backgrounds collected for the Northern Manhattan Study.  They noted that 22% of the participants had diabetes at the outset and a further 10% went on to get it over the course of the study.  Among these patients, 244 ischemic strokes – the kind caused by a loss of blood supply to the brain caused by a blockage such as a blood clot – were reported.

The team adjusted their findings for factors such as smoking, exercise or inactivity, history of heart problems, blood pressure and raised cholesterol.  On analyzing the data the team found the patients’ risk of a stroke rose by 3% for every year they had diabetes, but tripled after 10 years.  The rise in risk also seemed to increase after time, with the increased risk being less in the early years of the first decade but rising quickly as the patient went on into his second decade with the disease.

More than half of American diabetics are under 65, which means more people are living for longer with the disease.  Obvious the findings have implications for the long-term health of patients who may be only 60 or in their late 50s when they are diagnosed.  In the case of patients who are younger – and today that can mean obese patients in their teens or younger – the outlook is not good.

The complications of diabetes, including strokes, heart disease and kidney failure, can be greatly decreased if the diabetic takes good care of himself, loses weight, takes more exercise and manages his blood sugar levels efficiently.  The advice also holds true for people who do not have the disease – they can decrease their risk dramatically by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Next Post → ← Previous Post