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What are the Effects of Diabetes on Life Expectancy?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The effects of diabetes on life expectancy are unfortunate. Generally, a person who has diabetes has a shorter life expectancy than that of a person who is free of the disease. The life expectancies of individuals with this disease may be further decreased if they have other conditions along with diabetes. For example, a person who has both diabetes and heart or kidney disease may have a shorter life expectancy than a person who has diabetes alone. Additionally, the medical care a person receives also influences his life expectancy, as a person with well-managed diabetes may have a good chance of living longer than a person whose diabetes is insufficiently treated.

Chronic conditions can wreak havoc on a person’s health, and diabetes is no exception. Unfortunately, having diabetes may lower a person’s life expectancy by several years. Life expectancy can be influenced by many different things, however. For example, a person’s age and gender influence his life expectancy; even his lifestyle and occupation may influence this number. It is important to note, however, that life expectancy statistics cannot predict exactly how long a person will live.

One of the factors that may influence the effect of diabetes on life expectancy is the presence of other conditions. People who have diabetes and another chronic condition may have lowered life expectancies. For example, having both diabetes and heart disease may lower a person’s life expectancy. The same goes for other diseases and conditions that may damage a person’s health and lead to other health problems. They include, but are not limited to, such conditions as kidney disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.

The effect of diabetes on life expectancy can also be influenced by the quality of care a person receives. A person who receives regular, quality treatment can usually expect to live longer than a person who does not receive treatment, deviates from his doctor’s treatment plan, or receives inadequate treatment. Additionally, the length of time a person has diabetes before he receives treatment may also affect his life expectancy. Those who have untreated diabetes for a long period of time may suffer permanent health damage that may shorten their lives.

Interestingly, the effect of diabetes on life expectancy may also be related to obesity. Individuals who have diabetes related to obesity may have a lowered life expectancy. This may be partially due to the fact that obesity raises a person’s risk of developing other conditions that lower one’s life expectancy. For example, an obese person who has diabetes may also have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Apr 14, 2011

We learned in my class that life expectancy is lowered by about 20 years for people with Type 1 diabetes and about 10 years for Type 2 diabetes. We also talked about increased risks of complications and other health problems due to diabetes.

I wonder what is it about diabetes that triggers so many other problems in the human body. For example, diabetes patients are said to have three times more risk of having a stroke. But why?

If the effects of diabetes on the organs and systems could be prevented and reduced, I think life expectancy for diabetics would improve. If many diabetics actually die of a heart attack, shouldn't we try and figure out how to prevent diabetes from doing this?

By discographer — On Apr 12, 2011

I'm always hesitant to make any generalizations when it comes to topics like this. I think that there are so many different factors that influence life expectancy in general that we cannot specifically say how long a diabetic will live.

I think it probably makes a difference what type of a diabetes a patient has, whether he depends on insulin or if he has type 2 diabetes and just takes oral medication.

Life style and where you live should make a difference too. I have read articles that say many European countries have a longer life expectancy than the United States. This could be due to genetics, gender, eating habits, exercise habits, stress levels, health care and so many other things.

So I think that we would have to look at diabetic patients individually to really come to any conclusions about how long they might live. I doubt that generalizations would be very correct. Don't you think so?

By burcidi — On Apr 11, 2011

This is scary information because my mom has both high blood pressure and diabetes. But she also does everything she can to manage her diseases and live a healthy and stress-free life. I'm hoping that these good practices will prolong her life and fight against the disadvantages of her health problems.

I think my mom has a good attitude because she cares very much about her health and always goes for regular checkups and tries to find the root of some of her symptoms. It might be because she was a nurse and it was these check ups that allowed the diagnoses of her diabetes and high blood pressure very early on. She has been taking all her medications regularly.

She has also moved to the country from the city to have a less stressful life. She is retired, so that definitely helps. She is also eating an organic and balanced diet and getting a lot of exercise, swimming in the summer and walking in the winter.

I hope that because of the way she takes care of herself and maintains her treatment, she will have a nice and healthy long life. I pray that she does.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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