The research, published in the Lancet, compared over 27,000 people with Type 1 diabetes to over 135,000 people without diabetes. They followed these people for an average of 10 years, monitoring their health.
They found that people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before the age of 10 were 30 times more likely to have heart complications, like a heart attack, than the general population. This dropped to a six times higher risk for people diagnosed later in life.
They also found that this early diagnosis had an impact on the average lifespan. In the study, women diagnosed before the age of 10 had an average lifespan 17.7 years shorter than those without diabetes, and 14.2 years shorter for men. This dropped to 10 years if they were diagnosed later in life.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson is Director of Research at Diabetes UK. She said:
“This research has identified that being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at a younger age was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduced life-expectancy.
“While this research provides important insights into the link between age of diagnosis and future risk of complications, we’d like to stress that the overall increased risk of cardiovascular disease is still relatively low in young adults. That said, this study highlights the vital need for research to find ways to reduce any excess risk of complications and enable people with Type 1 diabetes to live long and healthy lives.
“Diabetes is a serious condition, but there are ways you can greatly reduce your risk of complications. These include achieving target levels for blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fats, and seeking help to stop smoking.”
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Want more information? Whatever your type of diabetes, here’s some advice on how everyone can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, complications more widely, and how diet is linked to your heart health.