A new Danish study has found that young adults with diabetes may be seven times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death, compared to their peers without diabetes.
Whilst this sounds worrying, sudden cardiac death is relatively rare and readers should not be overly anxious. Note also that risks of heart disease can be minimised by keeping blood glucose well controlled and following a healthy lifestyle.
The study suggests that younger people with diabetes and abnormalities in their blood vessels caused by the chronic narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) may have an especially high risk of cardiac death.
The findings, which were presented at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions, compared the death rates from several cardiovascular-related causes of people aged 35 or younger with and without diabetes.
There were 14,295 deaths during the 10-year study and, among those who died, 471 (70 per cent) had type 1 diabetes and 198 (30 per cent) had type 2 diabetes.
The researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital found that the death rate was higher among people with diabetes in almost every category.
The study found that overall, compared to those without diabetes, young adults with diabetes were eight times more likely to die from any kind of heart disease, such as heart failure or atherosclerosis.
The risk for sudden and non-sudden cardiac death increased sevenfold and ninefold, respectively, for individuals with diabetes.
Researchers also found that people with diabetes had twice the risk of developing other serious diseases, like pulmonary disease, endocrine disease, malignancies, and infectious disease.
The study is one of the first to look at causes of death and cause-specific death rates among children and young adults nationwide.
The findings highlight the importance of cardiovascular risk factors management from an early age.
Continuous monitoring of blood lipids and blood pressure, alongside tighter control of blood glucose, may be especially important to lower the risk of heart disease and comorbidities in youth with diabetes.

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