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Study: Diabetes 'linked to disability risk' in older adults

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Research has roved that adults with diabetes have a higher risk of physical disability. A recent study found that older people with diabetes are 50 to 80 percent more likely to develop a physical disability than those without.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a review of 26 studies, with no distinction was made between type-1 and type-2 diabetes, the majority of the data involved people over the age of 65, more likely to have type-2.

As published in the journal the Lancet, Diabetes & Endocrinology, the study reviewed data from thousands of patients around the world.

The term "disability" was defined as impaired mobility and the inability to perform normal activities such as bathing, eating, shopping or using transport.

Australian researchers say the reasons behind the link remain unclear, but note that high blood sugar levels may lead to muscle damage over time.

"The complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, can all result in disability," study leader Dr. Anna Peeters and Dr. Evelyn Wong, of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne said.

"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."

Previous studies in linking diabetes with disabilities have given a confusing picture of the causal effect, with estimates ranging from zero risk -- to double.

"We are going to need to think about preventing disability as one of our priorities in managing and dealing with diabetes," Dr. Edward Gregg, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Diabetes U.K., a charity said the research showed yet again that diabetes complications could result in serious life-limiting disability.

"It emphasizes why preventing type-2 diabetes and ensuring that all people with diabetes have access to the right care is so hugely important," Head of research, Dr. Matthew Hobbs, said.

The link may be explained by the fact that complications caused by consistently high blood glucose levels, such as amputation, blindness, heart disease and stroke were, themselves, major causes of disability, he said.

Another possible explanation is that risk factors, such as being overweight increase the likelihood of disability. "Eating a healthy, balanced diet and being more physically active in your daily life can help to reduce your risk of developing type-2 diabetes," Hobbs added.

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