Type 2 Diabetes Worse With Younger Onset

14-Fold Higher Heart-Attack Risk With Diabetes Before Age 45

From the WebMD Archives

Nov. 11, 2003 -- Young people who develop type 2 diabetes aren't just starting early. They've got a much more dangerous form of the disease.

The biggest danger: A 14-fold higher risk of heart attack than young people without diabetes. That's 3.5 times higher than the risk of older diabetic people, who have a high risk themselves.

"Early-onset type 2 diabetes appears to be a more aggressive disease from a cardiovascular standpoint," conclude Teresa A. Hillier, MD, and Kathryn L. Pedula of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore.

Hillier and Pedula compared outcomes for nearly 8,000 adult diabetes patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They found that those diagnosed before age 45 -- what's known as early-onset type 2 diabetes -- were more likely to have a more aggressive, high-risk form of the disease. They had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in the future compared with people their own age and with people who develop diabetes later in life. The most frequent type of cardiovascular disease -- and the worst -- was heart attack, Hillier and Pedula report in the November issue of Diabetes Care.

Younger and Younger

America's children are getting more and more overweight. Overweight children tend to grow into obese adults. And young adults are now the fastest growing group of people with obesity -- and with type 2 diabetes, a direct consequence of carrying too much fat for too long.

These young people aren't just losing years off their lives, the Hillier/Pedula study suggests. They are losing decades.

"Young adults, who are increasingly obese and developing type 2 diabetes, will soon increasingly be developing the morbidity and premature mortality associated with [heart disease and stroke] several decades earlier in life," Hillier and Pedula write.

SOURCE: Hillier, T.A. and Pedula, K.L. Diabetes Care, November 2003; vol 26: pp 2999-3005.

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