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01-03-2012 | Stroke | Article

Stroke risk rises in line with diabetes duration


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MedWire News: The longer a person has Type 2 diabetes, the higher their risk for having a stroke becomes, show data from the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS).

Researchers found that people who had diabetes lasting 10 years or longer had more than triple the stroke risk of people without diabetes, even after accounting for other stroke risk factors.

"Although stroke rates have been declining overall, the increase in diabetes incidence over the same period may lead to a higher overall stroke burden in the future," said lead researcher Mitchell Elkind (Columbia University, New York, USA) in a press statement.

As reported in Stroke, Elkind and team studied 3298 NOMAS participants, aged an average of 69 years, who were free of stroke at baseline. Of these, 21.7% had diabetes at baseline and 10.2% developed it during an average 9 years of follow up.

During this time, 244 people had an ischemic stroke, with this 2.6 times more likely to occur in people with diabetes than in those without. Accounting for demographic variables and vascular risk factors including smoking, blood pressure, and history of cardiac disease did not alter the association.

By the end of follow up, the average duration of diabetes in people with the condition at baseline was 17.3 years and that in people who developed it during follow up was 4.5 years.

Compared with people without diabetes, the risk for stroke was increased a significant 1.72-, 1.83-, and 3.23-fold among those who had diabetes lasting 5 years or less, 5-10 years, and more than 10 years, respectively.

This equated to a 3% increase in stroke risk for each additional year that a person had diabetes. These associations were independent of demographic variables and vascular risk factors.

"We used to think of Type 2 diabetes as a disease people get when they are older, after a lifetime of poor dietary habits," said Elkind. "But the age at diagnosis is getting younger and younger because of the obesity problem among young people."

He added: "If how long a person has diabetes matters, young people with a long history of diabetes are more likely to develop complications earlier in life. It's possible that people with diabetes may start having strokes at a younger age."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Eleanor McDermid

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