Early-onset type 2 diabetes increases risk of early death and heart disease

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Recent research underscores the alarming health risks associated with early-onset type 2 diabetes (T2D), defined as a diagnosis before the age of 40.

The study revealed that individuals diagnosed at this age are significantly more likely to experience cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death compared to their non-diabetic peers.

Skyrocketing Risks

The research, which is to be presented at this year’s European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Stockholm, involved a comprehensive comparison of over 634,000 newly-diagnosed T2D patients against more than 1.2 million matched controls.

The study found that those with early-onset diabetes were:

  • 5 times more likely to develop heart disease.
  • 7 times more likely to be hospitalized for heart failure.
  • At least 5 times as likely to die from CVD or any other cause compared to those without diabetes.

A Growing Problem Globally

Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in middle-aged and older adults. However, its incidence among younger individuals is rising globally.

Early-onset T2D often results in a more aggressive form of the disease, leading to higher rates of complications and hospitalizations. Understanding its impact on CVD—a major cause of death—is crucial for effective healthcare planning.

Data for the study was sourced from the Korean National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database, and participants were followed for CVD outcomes or until 2019.

Adjustments were made for several factors, such as age, sex, and previous CVD history.

After six years of follow-up, a considerable 40% of early-onset T2D patients had either suffered a heart attack, stroke, or died from CVD.

The risk of CVD complications was strongly tied to the age at diagnosis, with the youngest age group facing the highest relative risks.

A Call for Immediate Action

The research calls for a reevaluation of healthcare policies, emphasizing the need for proactive measures like early screening, diagnosis, and treatment to manage this emerging high-risk population.

“We should place more emphasis on type 2 diabetes in young people, who have traditionally been focused on for type 1 diabetes,” says Dr. Seong Bin Hong, co-author of the study.

Limitations and Further Research

The study, while extensive, is observational and does not rule out the possibility of other unmeasured factors affecting the results.

Its relatively short follow-up time and the specific demographic focus on South Korea also limit its generalizability to other populations.

Nevertheless, the findings are a wake-up call for healthcare professionals and policymakers to act swiftly in managing the risks associated with early-onset type 2 diabetes.

In summary, if you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age, it’s crucial to be aware of the elevated risks for cardiovascular disease and other complications.

Early intervention, rigorous management, and lifestyle changes are more important than ever.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that not all whole grain foods could benefit people with type 2 diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about best cheeses to improve diabetes and lose weight, and results showing plant-based protein foods may help reverse diabetes.

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