If you develop diabetes in middle age, you can expect different challenges resulting from diabetes than people who develop it closer to retirement age. The burden will be different. In a recent study, elderly persons who had been living with diabetes since middle-age were more likely to have retinopathy, reflecting the cumulative damage of high glucose levels over the course of many years. They also had much worse glycemic control. In contrast, elderly persons with newly diagnosed diabetes had a comparable burden of cardiovascular disease but required less aggressive treatment to reach blood pressure and cholesterol treatment goals.
Elderly persons diagnosed with diabetes during middle age (40-64 years) and those diagnosed later in life (over 65 years) comprise two distinct groups, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study, published in the November 2006 issue of Diabetes Care, found that these two age groups have different disease burdens and may require different treatment goals.
“The two types of elderly persons with diabetes have distinct characteristics, including different burdens of disease,” said Elizabeth Selvin, lead author of the study. “Elderly people with diabetes are a heterogeneous group and doctors may need to consider different treatment goals for these two groups in clinical practice.”