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Diabetes is Bad News

September 2006 - Diabetes puts people at risk of developing critical illness and dying early, but obesity without diabetes does not. A new study in the open access journal Critical Care reveals that individuals suffering from diabetes are three times more likely to develop critical illness and die young than individuals who do not have diabetes.

However, obese individuals who do not have diabetes have the same risk of dying or of falling critically ill as non-obese patients who do not have diabetes. The authors describe these results as surprising, given the link between obesity and diabetes. They conclude that the relationship between obesity, diabetes and critical illness is complex and that obesity, per se, does not predict poor outcomes.

Katarina Slynkova and colleagues from the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital collaborated with colleagues from Emory University School of Medicine to analyse data from 15 408 subjects aged 44 to 66, from four different US communities, who had originally been studied between 1986 and 1989. The authors analysed the subjects' body mass index (BMI), presence of diabetes (either type 1 or type 2) and the subjects' history of critical illness (acute organ failure) and mortality within three years.

Results indicate that obese individuals without diabetes do not have an increased risk of suffering or dying from acute organ failure than non-obese individuals. By contrast, patients with diabetes are three times more likely to become critically ill and to die from acute organ failure, or from any cause, than patients who do not have diabetes, regardless of their BMI. The study concludes that diabetes is a strong independent predictor of acute organ failure and subsequent death, or death from any cause.


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