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Type 1 Diabetes Death Rate is Falling, But Not Fast Enough
Date:11/29/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) Death rates have dropped significantly in people with type 1 diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers also found that people diagnosed in the late 1970s have an even lower mortality rate compared with those diagnosed in the 1960s.

"The encouraging thing is that, given good [diabetes] control, you can have a near-normal life expectancy," said the study's senior author, Dr. Trevor J. Orchard, a professor of epidemiology, medicine and pediatrics in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Penn.

But, the research also found that mortality rates for people with type 1 still remain significantly higher than for the general population -- seven times higher, in fact. And some groups, such as women, continue to have disproportionately higher mortality rates: women with type 1 diabetes are 13 times more likely to die than are their female counterparts without the disease.

Results of the study are published in the December issue of Diabetes Care.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to mistakenly attack the body's insulin-producing cells. As a result, people with type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin, and must rely on lifelong insulin replacement either through injections or tiny catheter attached to an insulin pump. Insulin is a hormone that allows the body to use blood sugar.

Insulin replacement therapy isn't as effective as naturally-produced insulin, however. People with type 1 diabetes often have blood sugar levels that are too high or too low, because it's difficult to predict exactly how much insulin you'll need. When blood sugar levels are too high due to too little insulin, it causes damage that can lead to long term complications, such as an increased risk of kidney failure and heart disease. On the other hand, if you have
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