The number of diabetes-related deaths in the UK has seen a dramatic decline since the mid-1990s, according to new research published in the medical journal Diabetologia
The study, which suggests that diabetes has become significantly less deadly over the past 15 years, examined changes in the “excess risk of mortality” among patients with diabetes in the UK and Ontario, Canada.
Researchers used population-based databases to compare mortality rates among people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and those without.
Results showed that in the UK in 1996, a person diagnosed with diabetes was more than twice as likely (about 114%) to die than a comparable person without diabetes. But in 2009, that excess risk of death had fallen to 65%. By comparison, the excess mortality rate in Ontario fell from 90% to 51% during the same period.
The investigators said the contracting mortality gap, which was seen across all adult age-groups in both men and women in the UK and Ontario, may be due to improved screening and earlier diagnosis, as well as more aggressive treatment, including more intensive control of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Dr Alasdair Ranki, director of research for charity group Diabetes UK, said the research was “really good news” – but warned there was still a long way to go as people with diabetes still have a significant reduction in life expectancy.
“Every year many thousands of people with diabetes in the UK are still dying before their time. This is unacceptable and urgent action is needed to further improve the situation,” he said.

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