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Early Onset Diabetes Increases Cardiovascular Risks

Developing early onset diabetes can lead to major health complications like kidney disease, diabetic eye disease, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, the earlier you develop type 2 diabetes, the greater your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease is according to a new study published in Circulation, a medical journal from the American Heart Association.

The study

Researchers compiled data from the Swedish National Diabetes Registry and examined cases of more than 318,000 participants within the same age, sex, and country of origin between the years of 1998 and 2013.

Key findings of the study:

  • People who were diagnosed with early onset diabetes (before the age of 40) had a greater risk for stroke, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, and heart failure.
  • Women carried a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease if they were diagnosed with type 2 before age 40.
  • Risk declined in people who were diagnosed with diabetes at older ages; in fact, those diagnosed with diabetes at 80 had the same risk of developing cardiovascular disease as someone without diabetes of the same age.

Dr. Naveed Sattar, lead author of the study and professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said in a statement, “This suggests we need to be more aggressive in controlling risk factors in younger Type 2 diabetes populations and especially in women. And, far less effort and resources could be spent screening people 80 and older for Type 2 diabetes unless symptoms are present. Furthermore, our work could also be used to encourage middle-aged people at elevated diabetes risk to adopt lifestyle changes to delay their diabetes by several years.”


Diabetes and cardiovascular disease

According to the American Heart Association, at least 68 percent of seniors with diabetes have some form of cardiovascular disease.

Having high blood sugar for an extended period of time (like with early onset diabetes) can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the heart. When the blood vessels in the heart are damaged, the heart must work extra hard in order to move blood throughout the body. The longer you have unregulated diabetes, the chances are of you developing cardiovascular disease. Keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range is a crucial step in preventing cardiovascular disease.