Diabetics Face Higher Disability Risks as Seniors

Wednesday, 24 Jul 2013 05:10 PM

By Nick Tate

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Older diabetics are far more likely to have a physical disability than those without diabetes, according to a new analysis of studies published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.

The review, led by doctors with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, examined more than 3,000 studies of the association between diabetes and disability — defined as impaired mobility, inability to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, using the phone, shopping, and driving.
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Overall, the analysis showed people with diabetes are 50-80 percent more likely to suffer physical disability, compared to people without the metabolic disorder. Although the study did not differentiate between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, the authors note that the majority of studies included in the analysis were based on studies of people over 65 years, among whom Type 2 diabetes is predominant.
"The reasons why diabetes is associated with physical disability are still unclear, although several mechanisms have been suggested," said researcher Anna Peeters, M.D. "It's possible that the high blood glucose concentrations experienced by people with diabetes might lead to chronic muscle inflammation, eventually resulting in physical disability, and some studies have shown that diabetes is associated with rapid and worsening muscle wasting.
"The complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, can all result in disability. As the world's population ages, and diabetes becomes more common, it seems clear that we will see an increased need for disability-related health resources, which health systems around the world need to be prepared for."

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