Many diabetic deaths "avoidable"

UP to 24,000 people with diabetes in England are dying each year from causes that could be avoided through better management of their condition according to statistics released by the NHS Information Centre.

The first ever report into mortality from The National Diabetes Audit also found that death rates among women aged 15 to 34 with diabetes are nine times higher than the average for this age group.

Diabetics who fail to control blood sugar levels and lead unhealthy lifestyles without regular health checks face increased risk of death from causes including high or low blood sugar, heart or kidney failure.

The report into mortality analysed data for 2.5 million people recorded between 2003/04 and 2009/10 in the National Diabetes Audit. About three quarters of the 24,000 people with diabetes who die each year are aged 65 or over. But among young diabetics the gap in mortality rates to those of non-diabetics was much greater.

About one in 3,300 women in England will die between the ages of 15 to 34 but this risk increases six fold to one in 360 in women with type 1 diabetes. Among young men aged 15 to 34 the risk rises four-fold for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

The findings echo conclusions made earlier this year by the National Diabetes Audit, which found nearly 450,000 children and younger adults (aged 0 to 54) with diabetes have high-risk blood sugar levels that could lead to severe complications.

The report also found a strong link between deprivation and increased mortality rates. In under-65s with diabetes the number of deaths among people from the most deprived backgrounds is double that of those from the least deprived backgrounds. Death rates also vary according to where diabetics live, with London having the lowest rates for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and North East England the highest.

Audit lead clinician Dr Bob Young, consultant diabetologist and clinical lead for the National Diabetes Information Service, said: "For the first time we have a reliable measure of the huge impact of diabetes on early death. Many of these early deaths could be prevented.

"The rate of new diabetes is increasing every year. So, if there are no changes, the impact of diabetes on national mortality will increase. Doctors, nurses and the NHS working in partnership with people who have diabetes should be able to improve these grim statistics."

Access the report at www.ic.nhs.uk/nda

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