Maintaining healthier weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can boost life expectancy in people with Type 2 diabetes significantly, a new study has found. Photo by Myriams-Fotos/Pixabay
April 18 (UPI) -- People with Type 2 diabetes who keep their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control can extend their life expectancy by as long as 10 years, a study published Monday found.
Lowering HbA1c levels, a measure of blood sugar, to 7.7% from 9.9% adds on average nearly 3 1/2 years on to the life expectancies of people with Type 2 diabetes, the data, published Monday by JAMA Network Open, showed.
Meanwhile, controlling body weight increased life expectancy in people with the disease by up to four years, the researchers said.
Similarly, lowering systolic blood pressure -- the "top number" -- to 128 millimeters of Mercury, or mm Hg, closer to the recommended number of 120 mm Hg, from up to 160 millimeters mm Hg boosts life expectancy by up to two years, they said.
Finally, reducing low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, so-called "bad" cholesterol, by about 30% increases life expectancy by up to one year, according to the researchers.
Left unchecked, Type 2 diabetes and related problems such as elevated cholesterol and blood pressure can cause life expectancy to fall by up to six years, the researchers said.
"Better control of key risk factors can potentially increase the life expectancy by three years in an average person with Type 2 diabetes," study co-author Dr. Hui Shao told UPI in an email.
"For individuals with very high levels of A1c, systolic blood pressure, LDL and [body weight], controlling these risk factors collectively can increase life expectancy by more than 10 years," said Shao, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
About 30 million people in the United States have Type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association estimates.
The disease, which results from the body's inability to metabolize, or process, sugars, is often linked with other health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Previous studies have suggested that, as a result, older adults with Type 2 diabetes often suffer long-term disability and live shorter lives.
The average life expectancy in the United States has fallen to 76.6 years from about 79 years during the COVID-19 pandemic, research indicates.
The findings of this study are based on an analysis of life expectancy among more than 420 adults, most of whom were in their 50s, 60s or 70s, with Type 2 diabetes, according to the researchers.
The researchers used an analytical model to create a "health heat" map of life expectancy, health and death for the participants over their lifetimes, they said.
"According to our 'health map,' the benefit of goal achievement varied across individuals and ones' personalized characteristics can determine which goal should be prioritized over the others," Shao said.
"Thus, individualized goal setting can potentially further improve the patients' health outcomes and our heat map can serve as a tool for that," he said.