Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Death Rate Dropping for People With Diabetes

Risk of Dying From Heart Disease, Stroke Drops Significantly
WebMD Health News

May 22, 2012 -- New research shows that people with diabetes are living longer, and this is likely due to heart-healthy habits and tighter control of blood sugar levels.

Many people may only associate diabetes with vision loss, kidney disease, and limb amputations, but it also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. From 1996 to 2006, however, the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke decreased by 40% among people with diabetes.

People with diabetes do die earlier than people without diabetes, but this gap appears to be getting smaller.

'Good News' Study

"This is good news," says researcher Edward W. Gregg, PhD. He is the acting director of the division for heart disease and stroke prevention at the CDC in Atlanta. "We are seeing a reduction in death rates in people with diabetes, and this is largely due to prevention efforts."

Specifically, he cites reductions in blood pressure levels, low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, decreases in smoking, and improved blood sugar control among people with diabetes. "We think it is a gradual improvement of multiple risk factors."

This should be a source of empowerment and motivation for people with diabetes. "We can make a big difference," he says. "People can cut their risk of developing cardiovascular disease in half if they are able to manage their risk factors."

The new study analyzed data on 250,000 adults from 1997 to 2004.

The findings appear in Diabetes Care.

People With Diabetes Living Longer

John Buse, MD, says the future is looking brighter for many people with diabetes. He is the chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Buse says the new study confirms and expands upon previous reports suggesting a decline in death rates among people with diabetes. "This study demonstrates the trend robustly," he says in an email. "It is clear that the prognosis for people with diabetes is improving."

Others in the field are also excited about the new findings. "This is tremendous, really great news," says Carol J. Levy, MD, CDE. She is an associate professor of endocrinology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "I am thrilled to see that what we are doing is making a difference."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner