Younger people with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing related health complications in later life, according to research.
A study of more than 5,000 people showed the younger the diagnosis, the greater chance there is of health faltering in other ways as they get older.
Previously type 2 diabetes had always been assumed as an older person’s condition, but in recent years obesity figures have soared in younger people and so has the prevalence of diabetes. However, young people at risk of type 2 diabetes can lower their chances of developing the condition by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
In the study, conducted by scientists at Aarhus University, 5,115 study participants were examined, 516 of whom were aged 45 or under. 20% of that age bracket were showing early signs of kidney damage, while 7% were already experiencing eye problems.
Lead author Anne Bo, master of science in public health science from Aarhus University, said: “When patients are already affected by type 2 diabetes at such a young age, the damage can develop into blindness, kidney failure or life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. The study therefore provides vital knowledge about the group’s risk factors, which means that the healthcare system can initiate better and more targeted prevention.”
The research team also found the healthcare sector is not as prepared as it should be when it comes to treating younger people who are newly diagnosed, as many services have been tailored for the older generation.
Ms Bo added: “Many patients feel a lot of guilt and shame about getting type 2 diabetes, which is related to lifestyle. They feel very alone when it comes to tackling a disease that is commonly associated with elderly people. Also, the general practitioner’s communication is most often adapted to the elderly. This can also contribute to the explanation of the younger patients’ proportionately poorer health.”
The findings of the research have been published in the Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews journal.
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