According to Canadian researchers at the Institute of Clinical Evaluation Sciences in Toronto, diabetics are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease 15 years earlier than other people.
Researchers say that diabetes confers the same risk of cardiovascular disease as aging 15 years. However not all people with diabetes are at high risk. Those that are do not reach the high level until they are in their early to late 40s.
Men with diabetes usually go from the moderate to high-risk category at about 41 years old while in women it is 48. In the general population it occurs 15 years later.
In research reported in The Lancet medical journal, the Canadian researchers also showed that young adults with diabetes have rates of coronary heart disease 12-40 times higher than those in people without diabetes.
The scientists assessed the age at which diabetics develop a high risk of cardiovascular disease by looking at 379,000 people with the illness in Ontario and more than 9 million residents without it.
By recording when heart attacks and strokes occurred in the two groups between 1994 and 2000, the researchers determined the increased risk.
Diabetes, which is linked to obesity, also carries an increased risk of kidney damage and nerve disorder that can lead to amputations.
The World Health Organization estimated that the number of people worldwide with diabetes in 2000 was 177 million. It is expected to rise to 300 million by 2025.
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