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Tight control of blood glucose levels (BGLs) have been shown to improve the lifespan of people with type 1 diabetes in a thirty-year longitudinal clinical study.

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Beginning in 1983, the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the follow-up Epidemiology of Diabetes Control and Complications (EDIC) study included 1,441 people with T1D between ages 13 and 39. In the DCCT, half of the participants were randomly assigned to intensive BGL control methods, and half to the conventional treatment at the time. The DCCT ended in 1993 when the intensive control group was found to have substantially less eye, nerve and kidney disease.

In the ongoing EDIC study, participants were followed for an average of 27 years after initial enrollment in the study. In this time:

  • 107 participants passed away
  • 64 deaths from the standard control group, 43 deaths from the intensive control group (33% reduction)
  • 6 deaths as a result of diabetes-related kidney disease in the standard control group, 1 death from the intensive control group

Researchers also found that higher average glucose levels and increased protein in the urine, a marker of diabetic kidney disease, were the major risk factors for death.

Angela McKay, acting CEO of JDRF Australia says, “It’s is good to see that the life expectancy of people with T1D, compared to those without T1D, has improved significantly over the past decade. During this time, we have seen significant advancements in research and better treatment options become available for people living with the condition. JDRF is proud to have supported many of these advancements. The recent data findings from the Pittsburgh study tells us that maintaining good glucose control is significantly important for life expectancy. JDRF remains committed to delivering a continuous stream of new therapies to help those living with the condition enjoy a long and healthy life, until a cure can be found.”

The results of these studies have been published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings of the DCCT trial were ground-breaking in its time, and have formed the basis for current recommendations for standard practice in the management for type 1 diabetes. These new research outcomes show that this recommended intensive management of T1D translates into longer lifespans for people with type 1 diabetes.

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