Background: In Sweden, diabetes prevalence is increasing in spite of unchanged incidence, indicating improved survival. In recent US studies mortality in diabetic subjects has decreased over three decades, but only in men. Our aim was to study mortality over time in diabetic subjects.
Methods: The annual Swedish Living Conditions Survey from 1980 to 2004 has been record-linked to the Cause of Death Register in order to study trends in mortality risk for those reporting diabetes as a chronic illness. Survival and the relative mortality risk within 5 years of follow-up have been calculated for a random sample of men and women aged 40-84 years with (n = 3,589) and without diabetes (n = 85,685) for the period 1980 to 2004. Poisson regression models were used.
Results: The age-adjusted mortality risk relative to non-diabetics within 5 years of follow-up for men was doubled during all periods. The relative risk for women was initially about 2.5, with a substantial drop in mortality in 1995-1999 to 1.45 although it increased to 1.90 in the last period. Using models that took into consideration the presence of heart disease, hypertension, daily smoking, and socio-economic status at the initial interview did not change the relative mortality risk. The age-adjusted 10-year observed survival rate for men with diabetes increased from 41.4% 1980-1984 to 51.5% in 1995-1999. The observed survival for women increased from 43.7% to 61.0%.
Conclusion: Survival rates have improved in subjects with diabetes since the early 1980s, more so in women than in men, thereby decreasing the gap to non-diabetic women.