According to a new study from Scotland published recently in JAMA, the gap in life expectancy between people without Type 1 diabetes and those with the condition is narrowing. As a post on the Harvard Health Blog reminds us, Type 1 diabetes used to be a fatal condition before insulin therapy and other medical improvements. 90 percent of Type 1 patients were dead within five years of diagnosis. Now, according to the study, 20-year-olds with Type 1 diabetes can expect to live only 12 years fewer than those without it on average. Another study also suggests good blood sugar control can prolong life in people with the disease.
The reasons people with Type 1 diabetes are living longer now include better insulin products and delivery systems, such as all-day insulin and insulin pumps. Other technologies, like home glucose monitors and continuous glucose monitors, help people with Type 1 diabetes keep their blood sugar as close to a normal level as possible throughout the day, which also helps prolong life. Medicine is better at treating diabetes complications now as well, including diseases of the heart and kidneys. These complications have been high on the list of causes of death for type 1 diabetics in the past.