Death Rates for People with Type 2 Diabetes Are Declining in Many Countries

Type 2 diabetes rates may be increasing across the globe, but at least in some countries, death rates for those with disease are decreasing. Researchers say this may be a sign that management techniques are working.

A team at Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia recently looked at mortality rates in type 2 diabetes patients across 16 high-income countries. The results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found that rates are falling, especially in the Asian countries included in the study.


Professor Dianna Magliano, co-lead author and Head of Diabetes and Population Health at Baker, says, “Mortality rates are an important indicator of access to quality healthcare. Our findings suggest that we may be starting to reap the benefits of better education and disease management programs.”

She noted that the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices and tobacco cessation has also contributed to fewer risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Certain medications may be partly to thank, as well.

She explains, “The use of blood pressure and cholesterol lowering medications for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes has increased in the last decades. This is critical because cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes.


“There have also been significant advances in medical interventions and care for individuals with acute cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.”

After examining 21 million deaths in those with diabetes between 1995 and 2016, researchers also found that the life expectancy gap between people with diabetes and the general population is narrowing in about half of the areas studied. Those include Singapore, the US, Canada, Denmark, and Hong Kong. Other countries involved in the study were Australia, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Scotland, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan.

While the news is encouraging, researchers say there’s more work to be done.

Professor Jonathan Shaw, co-lead author and Deputy Director of Clinical and Population Health at Baker, says, “There is still a long way to go to control the many risks associated with diabetes, but these findings provide promising evidence that we are moving in the right direction.”


While the numbers are improving in these high-income countries, diabetes patients in low- and middle-income countries often don’t have access to comprehensive care.

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