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Survival trends look worrying for women with diabetes

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39255.386053.AD (Published 28 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1344

Between the early 1970s and the millennium, US men with diabetes enjoyed substantial improvements in mortality from cardiovascular and all causes that matched improvements in the non-diabetic population. Women with diabetes were left behind, however: an analysis of three nationally representative health surveys shows that their all cause and cardiovascular mortality remained essentially unchanged throughout the 30 years leading up to 2000. The excess annual mortality in women with diabetes compared with non-diabetic women more than doubled from 8.3 deaths per 1000 to 18.2.

The study's authors and a linked editorial agree that these trends look worrying for US women with diabetes. In the first survey, which covered the years 1971-86, women with diabetes had a clear survival advantage over men with the disease. This advantage was completely wiped out by the third survey (1988-2000).

US citizens are now living longer thanks to better control of cardiovascular risk factors and better treatments for coronary heart disease, says the editorial. It seems likely that women with diabetes have missed out on both. Researchers need to find out why as a matter of urgency. They should also be looking closely at what has happened to women with diabetes since the millennium.

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