Researchers at Ajou University Medical Center (AUMC) have succeeded in mapping the pathology of Korean diabetic complications.
|Professor Yoon Duk-young|
Diabetes is a common chronic disease that affects more than one out of seven adults among Koreans aged 30 and older. The disease causes many complications, such as heart disease and retinal disease, and the mortality rates due to complications are higher than that of the disease itself.
It is, therefore, essential to identify and prevent possible diabetes complications in advance. However, there still is a lack of comprehensive information regarding the disease.
The team, led by Professor Yoon Duk-young, used the National Health Insurance Service's data of 1 million health insurance subscribers and beneficiaries, from 2002 to 2015, and mapped the path leading to complications after diagnosing diabetes, the hospital said in a news release on Monday.
Its analysis showed that Koreans took an average of 936 days to show the first complication for type 2 diabetes. Also, the period from the first complication to the second complication was 571.95 days, and the period from the second to the third complication was 560.72 days, indicating the time needed for the next stage of complications got shorter.
By age, complications increased as the patients grew older, from the middle age group of 40 to 59 years to the elderly group of 60 years or older.
The team also confirmed that older men are more vulnerable to diabetes complications than women.
"Men showed signs of multiple complications from the start and suffered from increasingly varied complications as they grew older," the team said. "In the case of female patients, one complication appeared first, and multiple complications started to appear from the third complication period."
Professor Yoon's team also discovered new unknown diabetes complications in the study. The newly confirmed diabetes complications included viral hepatitis and thyroid disease.
Unlike microvascular diseases such as cardiovascular disease and retinal disease, which are well-known complications, viral hepatitis and thyroid diseases have not been dealt with appropriately as they were not well known, the team said. However, as the study confirmed that the two diseases are significant diabetes complications, patients should take more caution against such complications, it added.
"Through this study, our researchers could roughly grasp the timing of major complications, the difference in the incidence of complications according to the gender and age group of diabetic patients, and discover newly unknown complications," Professor Yoon said. "This study will likely help predict and manage complications in diabetic patients."
Based on this study, the team plans to conduct new drug development studies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes complications, Yoon added.
The research results were published in the March edition of Scientific Reports, a sister paper of Nature, with the title of the "Temporal trajectories of accompanying comorbidities in patients with type 2 diabetes: a Korean nationwide observational study."
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