For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall Sharply

For Diabetics, Health Risks Fall Sharply

[New York Times]

In this Friday, March 1, 2013 file photo, Chan Lai Ly, right, has his mouth examined by Honghue Duong, a physician's assistant, as part of a regular check-up related to his diabetes at International Community Health Services in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
In this Friday, March 1, 2013 file photo, Chan Lai Ly, right, has his mouth examined by Honghue Duong, a physician’s assistant, as part of a regular check-up related to his diabetes at International Community Health Services in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Federal researchers on Wednesday reported the first broad national picture of progress against some of the most devastating complications of diabetes, which affects millions of Americans, finding that rates of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and amputations fell sharply over the past two decades.

The biggest declines were in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, which dropped by more than 60 percent from 1990 to 2010, the period studied. While researchers had had patchy indications that outcomes were improving for diabetic patients in recent years, the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, documents startling gains.

“This is the first really credible, reliable data that demonstrates that all of the efforts at reducing risk have paid off,” said Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in the study. “Given that diabetes is the chronic epidemic of this millennium, this is a very important finding.”

The number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled over the period of the study and is now nearly 26 million. Nearly all the increase came from Type 2 diabetes, which is often related to obesity and is the more common form of the disease.