Older adults with diabetes live long enough to benefit from interventions

May 2, 2012

Middle-aged and older adults with diabetes showed substantial survival rates in a new University of Michigan Health System study of retirees.

Survival rates were strong even for adults living in nursing homes or who have multiple health issues like dementia and disabilities that make self-managed care for diabetes difficult.

The findings were published in the and revealed even older adults may benefit from interventions that can prevent or delay the complications of diabetes, which include poor vision, nerve damage, heart disease and .

"We went into this thinking that people in the limited health group would have substantial mortality but with the exception of patients over age 76 with the poorest health status, all showed strong survival rates," says lead study author Christine T. Cigolle, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of family medicine and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at the VA.

There is no cure for diabetes, but those with can prevent complications through regimens that may involve multiple medications and changes in diet and physical activity.

Cigolle, who is also a research assistant professor at the U-M Institute of Gerontology, notes that the success of these interventions depends on the patient's ability to self-manage their diabetes and on surviving long enough to experience benefits of treatment.

The study found that while adults in the older age groups were more likely to have difficulty managing the disease and to have poor health status, middle-aged adults constituted the largest number of diabetes patients to have self-management difficulties.

Blindness, and having multiple diseases requiring multiple medications were among issues that complicated their ability to manage their diabetes.

The finding that medically complex patients survive to five years also supports inclusion of older patients in clinical trials to determine whether their outcomes replicate those of younger, healthier patients.

"A struggle in geriatrics has been what interventions are appropriate for older adults," says the study senior author Caroline S. Blaum, M.D., M.S., professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the U-M Health System.

"The fact that this group is showing substantial survival means they may well be candidates for continued aggressive care."

More information: Journal of Gerontology, A Biol Sci Med Sci; 10.1093/Gerona/gls095

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.