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People Who Get Diabetes in Middle Age Develop More Serious Health Problems Later in Life

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:12pm

If you get diabetes in middle age (aged 40 to 64), you'll get more serious health problems later in life than if you develop the disease in your old age, suggests compelling new research from Johns Hopkins University in the November issue of Diabetes Care. reports about these fascinating findings.

"Our study reinforces the need to help adults who are middle-aged take steps to prevent diabetes, and suggests that seniors with diabetes should not be treated as a single group," researcherElizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in a press release from the American Diabetes Association.

Dr. Selvin also said the study shows that different treatment guidelines may be needed for people diagnosed with diabetes in their 40s, 50s and 60s, explains. 

Of course, this new research just emphasizes what experts keep telling those of us who are at risk for type 2 diabetes: Take care of yourself NOW so that you 1) won't ever get the disease or 2) can put the diease off as long as possible.

Of course, I'm not discounting the role genetics can play, but as doctors keep insisting, if you watch your diet, exercise, lose weight, cut out or cut back on those culprit carbs, etc. now, your health will be better later on.

So what were some of these health problems that plague people who get diabetes earler in life (middle age) rather than later (the golden years)? Well, these folks developed or had:

  • More cases of retinopathy, an eye condition related to diabetes that affects the tiny blood vessels of the eye.
  • Worse blood sugar control. (Yikes, "nearly 60% of the elderly with middle age-diagnosed diabetes had poor blood sugar control, compared with 42% of those with later-onset diabetes," WebMD explains.)

Both groups had problems with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Again, as WebMD explains, the lesson to be learned here is this: Helping at-risk people delay getting diabetes as long as possible may significantly reduce diabetes-related health problems as they grow older.

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