Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. The disease is caused by the person’s own immune system that destroys insulin-producing cells found in the pancreas.
Insulin plays a key role in removing sugar (or glucose) from the bloodstream and sending it to storage so it can later be used in the production of energy. Having a very low level of insulin, type 1 diabetics need to inject themselves with this substance and always keep track of their blood sugar level.
Too much injected insulin induces hypoglycemia which can lead to loss of consciousness, coma and even death if one does not act quickly. The best thing to do in such situations is to give the person doses of sugar or carbohydrates to stabilize the level of blood glucose.
If left untreated, this type of diabetes can produce some serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nerves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, out of the total of 29.1 million Americans suffering from diabetes, 5 percent are diagnosed with type 1.
Data regarding life expectancy among type 1 diabetics varies from one paper to another. According to one study, people suffering from type 1 diabetes live 15 to 20 years less than nondiabetics. A research paper from 1970 states that life expectancy is 27 years shorter for type 1 diabetics while a study conducted in New Zealand in the 1980s stated the value was somewhere close to 16 years.
As newer and more accurate facts was needed, scientists analyzed national data from Scotland belonging to 24,691 people suffering from type 1 diabetes from 2008 to 2010.
Using the information, they calculated that type 1 diabetic men would live 11 years less than those without the condition. Women suffering from type 1 diabetes were estimated to live 13 years less than nondiabetic women.
In a second study published in the same journal, researchers compared 711 type 1 diabetics who rigorously controlled their blood sugar with 730 people who failed to maintain a normal level of blood glucose. Findings showed that the people in the first category “were less likely to die over 27 years”.
Regarding the results, Trevor Orchard, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health concluded:
“We can now confidently tell doctors and patients that good, early control of blood glucose greatly reduces any risk for early mortality in people with type 1 diabetes.”
Image Source: University of Minnesota
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