Type 1 diabetics thriving and living longer
People who have thrived with Type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more are inspiring doctors in Toronto to investigate why and how they've accomplished the feat in order to help other patients.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that stops the pancreas from producing the hormone we need to use carbohydrates as fuel. People with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin to prevent serious illness or death.
The life expectancy for those with Type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.
"In the 1940s, roughly half of people with Type 1 diabetes were getting end-stage kidney disease in their 40s and dying in their 40s," said Dr. Bruce Perkins, an endocrinologist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
A U.S. modelling estimate based on data from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications suggests that the life expectancy at birth for someone diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980 was estimated to be 68.8 years compared to 72.4 years for the general population. In comparison, for someone diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1964, the estimated life expectancy at birth was 53.4 years.
Most Canadian provinces lack diabetes registries. That’s why researchers aren’t able to identify the type of diabetes someone has using billing codes and administrative databases.
Perkins is leading the Diabetes Longevity Study — the first Canadian study of its kind looking at the personal experiences of Canadians who have lived with Type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more.
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