Although it's known that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, a new study found that the condition brings on fatal and non-fatal heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events 15 years earlier than in those without diabetes, as well as significantly shortens lifespan.
The researchers studied hospital and death records of close to 9.5 million Canadians, 379,000 of whom had diabetes. They found that men with type 2 diabetes reached "moderate-risk" for heart disease at an average age of 39 years, compared to age 55 for non-diabetics.
The "high-risk" category was reached at age 49 for the diabetic men, compared with 62 years for those without diabetes.
Among women with type 2 diabetes, moderate-risk was reached at an average age of 46 and high-risk at an age of 56, compared to 62 and 69, respectively, for women without diabetes.
Diabetes Shortens Life Expectancy by Nearly Two Decades
Life expectancy also took a major hit among those with type 2 diabetes who were also at moderate or high risk of cardiovascular disease. Those falling into that category lived an average of 18 years less than non-diabetics.
It's estimated that 16 million to 18 million Americans have type 2 diabetes. Those who are obese have five times the risk of type 2 diabetes as those with a normal weight.