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Combination of diabetes and CVD cuts life expectancy

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Life expectancy for people with a history of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes is more than 10 years lower than for people with just one condition, according to latest research.

Cambridge University researchers estimated reductions in life expectancy associated with a history of different combinations of diabetes, stroke and myocardial infarction.

“Once someone has developed diabetes, or suffered a stroke or heart attack, it is… essential to address all their risk factors”

Jeremy Pearson

The team analysed data from the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (ERFC) from almost 700,000 participants recruited between 1960 and 2007.

They compared the results with those from the UK Biobank, a prospective cohort of just under 500,000 participants recruited between 2006 and 2010.

The researchers found that around one person in a hundred from the cohorts they analysed had two or more conditions.

The researchers estimated that at the age of 60 years, men with any two of the conditions would on average have 12 years of reduced life expectancy, and men with all three conditions would have 14 years of reduced life expectancy.

For women at the age of 60 years, the corresponding estimates were 13 years and 16 years of reduced life expectancy, according to the study results, which are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The figures were even more dramatic for patients at a younger age. At the age of 40 years, men with all three conditions would on average have 23 years of reduced life expectancy. For women at the same age, the corresponding estimate was 20 years.

Study author Professor John Danesh, head of the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge University, said: “Our results highlight the importance of preventing heart disease and stroke among patients with diabetes, and likewise averting diabetes amongst heart disease patients.

“Although patients with more than one condition constitute only a small proportion of the population at large, in real terms the numbers are not insignificant,” he added.

“Having a combination of diabetes and heart disease is associated with a substantially lower life expectancy”

Emanuele Di Angelantonio

The work was funded by the Medical Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute of Health Research and the European Research Council.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “Once someone has developed diabetes, or suffered a stroke or heart attack, it is… essential to address all their risk factors, such as their diet and the amount of physical activity they do, to lower their risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke and give them the best chance of a longer life.”

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