Life expectancy is lower in people with history of diabetes, stroke and heart attack

7 July 2015        

Doctor checking a patient

Researchers we help fund at the University of Cambridge have shown that people with a history of two or more serious conditions - including heart attack, diabetes and stroke - have a significantly reduced life expectancy.

Researchers studied the records of over a million people recruited into the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (1960-2007) and the UK Biobank (2006-2010). Around 140,000 people had died since recruitment, leaving behind detailed health records where the scientists were able to compare a person's age at the time of their death and which conditions they had. The team investogated stroke, diabetes and heart attack. We fund vital research into all three of these conditions. 

The team found that men aged 60 with a history of stroke, heart attack and diabetes were likely to die nine years earlier than those with just diabetes, and 14 years earlier than men with none of the conditions. It was a similar story for 60 year old women with all three conditions who where also likely to die nine years earlier than women with just diabetes, and 16 years earlier than women without any of the conditions.   

The situation was more pronounced for younger people. For example, men at 40 with a history of diabetes, stroke and heart attack were likely to lose 23 years of their lives and 40 year old women with the same three conditions were likely to lose 20 years of their lives.

The research is published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association

What can I do about my risk of developing these conditions?

Everyone should be aware of their risk of developing any of these conditions, and how they can reduce it

Professor Jeremy Pearson
Our Associate Medical Director

Our Associate Medical Director Jeremy Pearson said: "The results of this large study emphasise the importance of preventing diabetes, heart attacks and strokes in the first place, through encouraging patients to live a healthier lifestyle and, where necessary, treating them with medication.

"Once someone has developed diabetes, or suffered a stroke or heart attack, it is even more essential to address all their risk factors, such as their diet and the amount of physical activity they do, to lower their risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke and give them the best chance of a longer life.

"Everyone should be aware of their risk of developing any of these conditions, and how they can reduce it. If you wait until you have developed one of these conditions before thinking about your wider health, you will already have reduced your life expectancy.

“We’re currently funding around £400 million pounds of research to better understand life changing heart and circulatory disease, and its risk factors like diabetes.”

You can donate to help us to fund urgently needed life saving heart research across the UK.

Working together

Today in the UK there are 3.9 million people living with diabetes and 11.5 million people at increased risk of developing it. There are also 7 million people living with heart disease and another 1.9 million at serious risk. Many people don’t realise the two conditions are linked as people with Type 2 Diabetes can have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

We have joined together with Diabetes UK and Tesco to form the National Charity Partnership to raise money to fund projects that will have a genuine impact on the health of the nation and help to avoid these conditions. We are working with Tesco, not only to fundraise, but to also use their networks to reach their staff and customers to drive our healthy lifestyle message across communities.