Diabetes responsible for more U.S. deaths than previously thought
Results of a new study published in PLOS One estimated that about 12% of deaths in the United States are attributable to diabetes, making the disease the third leading cause of death.
“It has not been generally recognized that diabetes is involved in this high of a fraction of deaths,” Samuel H. Preston, PhD, department of sociology and population studies center at the University of Pennsylvania, told Medical Economics.
Prior estimates of the effects of diabetes listed the disease as the seventh leading cause of death nationwide; however, these estimates used the cause of death listed on death certificates.
“Using death certificates is quite difficult because people who die with diabetes typically have other complications that are present and may contribute to death,” Preston said. “It is somewhat arbitrary at the time what gets assigned at the underlying cause of death.”
For this study, Preston and colleagues instead estimated the population attributable fractions (PAF) for cohorts aged 30 to 84 who were surveyed in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 1997 and 2009 and the in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2010.
Members of these two cohorts were followed prospectively for mortality through 2011. The researchers identified diabetes status using self-reported diagnoses in both surveys and using HbA1c in NHANES. They compared the prevalence of diabetes among those surveyed and among the subsequent deaths to those surveyed.