Treating type 2 diabetes with intensive therapy of both lifestyle modification and medication can make people 45 per cent less likely to die and boost their life expectancy by eight years, according to a Danish study.
The findings showed that intensive and multi-pronged treatment can lower heart and blood vessel problems, as well as reducing the risk of eye and kidney complications by 30 to 50 per cent.
The Stena-2 study, which started in 1993, compared intensified and standard treatment for almost eight years, to prove how patients can prolong their lifespan.
Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark wanted to examine the differences in life expectancy when people were given different methods of treatment.
The team also wanted to highlight how people who have microalbuminuria, a condition where a type of protein called albumin is moderately increased in the person’s urine, have lower life span.
Lead author Dr Peter Gaede said: “The outcome of our study is very encouraging and emphasises the need for early and intensified treatment of multiple modifiable risk factors for a poor prognosis of patients with type 2 diabetes.”
Study co-author Dr Jens Oellgaard added: “In previous reports from the Steno-2 study we have demonstrated the unprecedented efficacy of this structured multifactorial intervention where development of complications in the eyes, kidneys, legs, heart and brain is halved compared with conventional multifactorial treatment.”
Intensive treatment consisted of a low-fat diet, with a greater focus on vegetable and fish intake, daily exercise and instructions to stop smoking. Participants were also given several drugs used to treat blood glucose, blood lipids, blood platelets, blood pressure and microalbuminuria.
The other group were seen by their doctor and treated according to current national diabetes care guidelines.
After eight years, everyone was asked to follow the multifactorial and intensified treatments as originally given to the intensified group only.
During the 21-year study, the results showed that 38 people from the intensive-therapy group had died, compared to the 55 patients who had received the conventional-therapy.
Researchers said this meant that the original intensively treated patients were 45 per cent less likely to die and their risk of cardiovascular, eye and kidney complications was also significantly reduced.
Dr Hans-Henrik Parving, a senior author from the National University Hospital of Copenhage, said: “This long-term follow-up of the Steno-2 study demonstrates beyond any doubt the sustainability of the intensified and multipronged treatment approach of type 2 diabetes patients with microalbuminuria introduced by us more than 21 years ago.
“The benefits for the patients in terms of a major extension of life and a halving of new cardiovascular complications speak for themselves.”

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