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Type 1 Diabetes and Life Expectancy | Intensive Treatment Helps Survival

Type 1 Diabetes


Diabetes and especially Type 1 diabetes, is one of the major causes of death worldwide – A disease that has near to no cure so far. Type 1 diabetic patients suffered from Diabetic Ketoacidosis. If it is not treated well, it can lead to death. Around 1.5 million people died in 2019 only because of diabetes, and over 463 million people are live their day-to-day lives with this metabolic disease.

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease that happens when a human body organ, the “pancreas,” produces little to no insulin. Insulin is an important hormone for converting sugar into energy. Adults and children alike are suffering from type 1 diabetes. Estimated 601 thousand children worldwide are reported with this health issue in 2019.

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes has many symptoms that can suddenly appear. Acknowledging these signs in the early stages helps in getting timely treatment. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes are:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Severe hunger and thirst 
  • Frequent urination   
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Bad vision 
  • Mood swings
  • Bedwetting in children 

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

The exact reason that leads to diabetes is still unknown. It is often referred to as an autoimmune disease. Common, driven causes are:

  • Virus: Exposure to environmental viruses can cause diabetes.
  • Body immune system: Where the immune system attacks beta cells that produce insulin.
  • Genetics: Genetic factors also play a key role. Get your genetic testing done to avoid any condition as such. 

Researchers such as TrialNet are trying to find the core reason for type 1 diabetes and possible prevention measures. 

Type 1 Diabetes & Life Expectancy: What’s the Lifespan?

The most common concern among patients with type 1 diabetes is “does type 1 diabetes shorten their life expectancy?” Unfortunately, that’s true! Type 1 diabetes directly affects heart health that shortens the lifespan of type 1 diabetes patients. So much so that such patients lose more than a decade of their life to this disease.

According to research from Manchester University in England, higher AIC levels reduce the type 1 diabetes life expectancy. The studies highlight the need to control and regulate sugar levels and follow treatments and medications.

Similarly, the research finding in Uk shows an average type 1 diabetic adult of the age group 32.8 years was found to live an additional 32 years only. However, an average adult without diabetes can live an additional 40 years.

Type 1 diabetes life expectancy differs for men and women. Men (32.8 years old) with type 1 diabetes have a reduced life expectancy of minus 7 life years. For women (32.8 years old) with type 1 diabetes, the reduced life expectancy is around 8.5 lost life-years. But, this is not the end to the topic; there’s still a ray of hope!

Hope of Survival for Patients With Type 1 Diabetes

Early Diagnosis

Dr. Trevor J. Orchard of the University of Pittsburgh studied patients treated with intensive vs. conventional therapy. After 27 years of research on type 1 diabetes patients, he concluded that intensive therapy straight in the early 6.5 years of diagnosis causes fewer deaths than conventional therapy. Hence, first and foremost, early diagnosis via genetic testing is important. It lessens the risk of complications in type 1 diabetic patients.

When diagnosed in the initial stages, intensive therapy helps type 1 diabetes to create hemoglobin A1C to or below the range of 7%. It collectively lowers the chance of developing any heart or other kidney and eye nerve disease. Effects of intensive therapy lead to the progression of diabetic nephropathy.

Treatment & Medication

Dr. Aleppo’s comment on this finding seems to emphasize the early treatment, 

Early medication and therapy are correlated to the lower death ratio. According to Dr. Aleppo, aggressive treatment with an early-stage diagnosis of type 1 diabetes patients is critical. The reason is that the blood glucose levels are not bound to control after the early 10 years of the condition. Thus, it can lead to complicated situations.

Lifestyle Changes

An important point of this study is to educate the patient to produce controlled glucose. Diabetic patients need to adopt regular follow-up after learning their health condition. It allows them to comprehend the importance of daily glycemic fluctuations with situations such as sick days, etc. Regular exercise, an insulin resistance diet, and diabetic-friendly meal planning, along with proper medication and treatment, can increase survival chances.

Advanced Technological Instruments

The study gave another important piece of advice to healthcare providers to adopt the latest technology. These recommendations include glucose monitoring systems CGM and insulin pump to help their patients recover better. The CGM sensor becomes more accurate with time which helps attain high tight glycemic control without inflated hypoglycemia. Excess hypoglycemia has previously been the major hurdle for a population with type 1 diabetes to achieve tight glycemic control. A glucose monitoring system helps patients identify glucose patterns accurately.

Myths About Safety Needs for Intensive Therapy

The study also removes any doubt about intensive therapy’s safety and immunity and shows complete achievable benefits.

DCCT Findings show results of patients after a follow-up of 6.5 years to intensive therapy considerably exhibited reduced incidences of neuropathy and retinopathy also albuminuria compared to those in the conventional groups.

EDIC outcomes show mortality results ratio drastically reduced up to 33% in the intensive treatment group.

Other Effective Treatments for Type 1 diabetes

As for type 1 diabetic patients, their bodies stop making insulin. Hence, some artificial insulin and other treatments can help control this health condition from getting worse. A regular heart check-up can help to comprehend the condition. Check your overall health score here.

Insulin: Most people with type 1 diabetes take insulin injections daily. Some use an insulin pump instead. The amount of daily intake varies from person to person, and at which stage their blood sugar is in the present moment.

Vaccines: A known vaccine called tuberculosis is promised to treat type 1 patients. A study also shows a small number of people who take bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) find their blood sugar level stabilized for around 5 years. However, this option is not yet available for all and is undergoing further testing.

Diet and Exercise: It is recommended to take a meal containing fewer carbs and more fiber every 2 hours to stabilize sugar level. Type 1 patients can also take the help of a certified dietitian who can tailor a diet plan after consulting with their doctors. Exercise or regular physical activities are most important for type 1 diabetes patients. It helps lower the sugar level. But, for an individual doing exercise, insulin level needs to be adjusted accordingly.


  1. Does Type 1 diabetes get worse with age?

Yes, the complications of type 1 diabetes have to do with age. If not treated well, type-1 diabetes can lead to more correlated diseases that can directly affect the condition of patients as they get old.

  1. Has anyone been cured of type 1 diabetes?

The answer is, currently, there is no cure, but with proper diet, regular exercise and insulin resistance, type 1 diabetes can be managed and controlled. 

  1. How long can patients live with diabetes without treatment?

Treatment is not an option but a necessity for diabetic patients. If it is left untreated, it can lead to severe complications and lower the chance for survival.

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