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Complications of diabetes in elderly people

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 26 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:916

Underappreciated problems include cognitive decline and physical disability

  1. Edward W Gregg (, epidemiologist,
  2. Michael M Engelgau, chief,epidemiology and statistics branch,
  3. Venkat Narayan, chief,epidemiology section
  1. Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, Mailstop K-10, Atlanta GA 30047 USA

    The diabetes epidemic continues to garner headlines,with the emergence of type 2 diabetes among young people the most alarming.1 The greatest increases in numbers of total cases of diabetes in industrialised countries are, however, occurring among elderly people.2 3 This is because of the ageing of the overall population as well as a greater absolute increase in the prevalence of diabetes among elderly people than among young people.People 65 years and older will make up most of the diabetic population in the United States in the next 25 years.2 More alarmingly, the proportion of the diabetic population 75 years or older is projected to exceed 30% in the United States in the next 50 years.Considerable progress has been made in reducing risk for the traditionally recognised microvascular (retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy), and macrovascular (coronary heart disease, stroke,peripheral arterial disease) complications of diabetes. But as diabetes increasingly becomes a disease of elderly people, some of its underappreciated complications must be …

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