Life Extension Update
Diabetes epidemic threatens cardiovascular disease gains
The March, 2006 issue of the journal Diabetes published the finding of researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University of a large increase in the number of diabetes-related deaths and illnesses in New York City, including a significant rise in heart attacks among diabetics. This trend could threaten the decrease in cardiovascular disease and related deaths this country has experienced over the past few decades.
Drs Jing Fang and colleagues examined New York hospitalization and death records for individuals age 35 and older for the periods of 1989 through 1991, and 1999 through 2001. They found that during the intervening decade, mortality from stroke, cancer and all other diseases except diabetes declined, and that mortality from diabetes increased by 61 percent. The percentage of heart attacks among diabetic patients rose from 21 percent to 36 percent with the number of diabetics who suffered heart attacks doubling during this time period. This resulted in the number of heart attacks documented in New York City remaining stable over the period examined in the study. Additionally, days spent in the hospital following a heart attack declined for all but diabetic patients, for which time spent increased by 51 percent.
Senior author Dr Michael Alderman, who is a Medicine professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, commented, “Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., and the leading cause of death among people with diabetes is coronary heart disease. We expected to see an increase in hospitalizations due to heart attacks among diabetics, but we were surprised by the magnitude of the increase and the sharply rising trend indicated by these findings.”
Dr Fang, who is currently with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, observed, “Over the past 30 years, the U.S. has achieved dramatic reductions in illnesses and deaths from coronary heart disease. But if this upsurge in diabetes-associated deaths and illnesses continues, it may put an end to the progress we've made in combating illness and death from coronary heart disease."
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