Diabetes ups risk for disabilities, review finds

People with diabetes might have a 50 percent higher risk of having a disability than individuals without the disease, according to a new research review.

Even after controlling for factors like obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, experts at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, still found a link between diabetes and disability that cannot be entirely explained.

"We found that diabetes increased the risk of disability by 50 percent to 80 percent compared to those without diabetes, and this result was consistent across all types of disability," said senior author Anna Peeters, head of obesity and population health at the institute.

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Potential causes

Inflammation associated with high blood sugar levels might contribute to disability – which can include anything from trouble walking or bathing to managing finances, dressing or eating. Other complications that go hand in hand with diabetes, like kidney problems or heart disease, might also contribute to the disability risk, Peeters said.

Since past studies have been inconclusive about the diabetes-disability link, Peeters and colleagues reviewed 26 studies on the subject. They found the odds of diabetes coexisting with a mobility disability, like trouble walking, were 71 percent higher for diabetics than non-diabetics, and the odds of someone having trouble eating, dressing or bathing were 82 percent higher for diabetics.

Management for prevention?

Because so few studies have looked at how effective diabetes management might or might not be preventing disability, it is not clear whether proper self-care and medical intervention would protect against disability in diabetics. However, some studies did show that poor control of blood sugar could increase diabetics' risk.

"We know that good control of diabetes decreases the risk of known major complications and those complications are, in turn, associated with future disability," Peeters said. "It is therefore highly likely that good diabetes control will decrease one's risk of disability."

Results of the study are published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Source: Health Day

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