Diabetic complications worse for depressed patients

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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A new study finds that diabetics who are depressed have a thirty six percent higher chance of developing severe complications from the disease. Diabetics are already at high risk for microvascular disease that can destroy the kidneys, and also cause blindness from diabetic retinopathy.

Depression was found to increase the chances of kidney disease, blindness, heart attack and stroke risk for diabetics, even after adjusting for other factors. The chances of developing disease of the large blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke was by twenty five percent higher for diabetics with depression.

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The findings are extracted from the Pathways Epidemiological Follow-up Study that included a review of patient records with diabetes. The study originally enrolled 4,632 primary-care Group Health Cooperative patients with diabetes between 2000 and 2002. Included in the final analysis were 3,723 patients who were tracked through 2005-2007. The study analyzed what happened to the patients over a five year period through a review of medical records.

After making adjustments for weight, smoking, age, insulin use, and other medical conditions, the study still revealed increased risk of severe complications from diabetes among depressed patients. Depression and diabetes has also been found to increase mortality.

The researchers note that depression can also cause diabetes, in addition to making the disease worse. The study highlights the need to understand the biological mechanism associated with depression and diabetes complications found in the new study. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes that affects millions of Americans. The finding that depression can lead to severe complications for diabetics is concerning for individual and public health.

University of Washington News

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