In order to evaluate various influences on survival time after onset of diabetes, a 29-year follow-up study was conducted in the 166 diabetic patients who were newly diagnosed between May 1st, 1962, and April 30th, 1963, in the rural district of Neustrelitz. Their mean age at onset was 63 (15-81) years, sex ratio was 2.5 (females: males). 27% of the patients were initially treated with insulin, 73% were on diet alone or on diet plus oral antidiabetic drug. There were 18 drop-outs. Check-up of mortality was performed at 3-year intervals. Shortening of life expectancy was calculated by comparison of their survival time to the life expectancy of the general population of the former German Democratic Republic with reference upon age and sex.
Results: Seven out of the remaining 148 study patients (4.7%) with an age at onset between 15 and 60 were alive. 19% of the patients had either reached or exceeded the life expectancy of the general population. The average loss in life expectancy in the decreased patients amounted to 5.3 years in males and to 6.4 years in females. The shortening of life expectancy decreased with increasing age at onset. Both underweight (BMI < 20) and extreme obesity (BMI > 40) were associated with a higher loss in life expectancy (14.7 vs. 10.8 yrs.) Also the survival time was not significantly different in dependence on the nature of treatment and on the circumstances of detection of the disease.
Conclusion: only 19% of diabetic patients may expect a "normal" survival time.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)