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Clinical Articles, News & Views

24,000 avoidable deaths per year in diabetes patients

Up to 24,000 people with diabetes are dying each year from causes that could be avoided through better management of their condition, according to the first ever report on mortality from the National Diabetes Audit.1

The report also found death rates among women aged 15 to 34 with diabetes are up to nine times higher than the average for this age group.  Roughly three quarters of the 24,000 people with diabetes who die each year are aged ≥65. However, the gap in death rates between those who have and do not have diabetes becomes more and more extreme with younger age.

About one in 3,300 women in England will die between the ages of 15 to 34; but this risk increases nine-fold among women with type 1 diabetes to one in 360, and six-fold among women with type 2 diabetes to one in 520.  A similar picture is true for young men with diabetes; men aged 15 to 34 in the English population are much more likely to die than women, at one in every 1,530; but this risk rises four-fold for men with type 1 diabetes to one in 360, and by just under four-fold among those with type 2 diabetes to one in 430.

The findings echo conclusions made earlier this year by the National Diabetes Audit, which found nearly 450,000 children and younger adults (aged up to 54) with diabetes have high risk blood sugar levels that could lead to severe complications. The audit, which is managed by the NHS Information Centre and commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP), also found this age group was the least likely to receive all the basic care checks required to monitor their condition.

The report also found:

  • There is a strong link between deprivation and increased mortality rates. Among under-65s with diabetes the number of deaths among people from the most deprived backgrounds is double that of those from the least deprived backgrounds.
  • Death rates among people with diabetes vary according to where they live. London has the lowest rates for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, at 1.8% and 1.2% respectively, while the highest rate for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes was in the North East, at 2.4% and 1.7% respectively.

Audit lead clinician Dr Bob Young, consultant diabetologist and clinical lead for the National Diabetes Information Service, said: “For the first time we have a reliable measure of the huge impact of diabetes on early death. Many of these early deaths could be prevented. The rate of new diabetes is increasing every year. So, if there are no changes, the impact of diabetes on national mortality will increase. Doctors, nurses and the NHS working in partnership with people who have diabetes should be able to improve these grim statistics”.


1 NHS The Information Centre. National Diabetes Audit 2007/8 Mortality Analysis.  The Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2011.

Published on: January 10, 2012

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