It is no secret that cardiovascular or cardiometabolic diseases could take away years off one's life, perhaps earlier than expected. Diabetes, heart disease and stroke are each known to be examples of these early life-takers. With all three combined, deaths can occur by up to eight times earlier.
Scientists encourage patients with these diseases, and even those who do not, to live healthier lifestyles.
In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on July 7, researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at more than 135,000 deaths from among 1.2 million subjects who underwent prolonged follow-up.
The researchers found that patients with a combination of all three diseases or at least two of them had reduced life expectancy rates. The results became more significant as they went through a younger age group.
"We showed that having a combination of diabetes and heart disease is associated with a substantially lower life expectancy," Dr. Emanuele Di Angelantonio of Cambridge's Department of Public Health and Primary Care said. He added that patients in their 60s having both combinations have an average reduction in life expectancy of more or less 15 years.
The analysis was based on data from the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (ERFC). Some 700,000 participants were recruited from 1960 to 2007; 500,000 were recruited from 2006 to 2010.
The researchers calculated the life expectancy of the patients who had histories of diabetes, heart disease and stroke among different age groups and found that men who were 60 years old and who had any two of the three conditions had an average reduced life expectancy of 12 years. For men who had all three, reduced life expectancy went up to 14 years.
Women, on the other hand, who had a pair of the cardiometabolic diseases, averaged a 13-year reduction in their life expectancy, while those with all three conditions averaged a 16-year reduction.
Going down a younger age group of men and women who were diagnosed with any one of the three diseases, the researchers arrived at a couple more years to almost a decade added to the reduction in life expectancy. Men with a combination of the three diseases accumulated 23 years off their life span, while women in the same situation had 20 years of reduced life expectancy on average.
The researchers of the study point out that those with more than one of the cardiometabolic diseases make up a small percentage of the population, but they urge patients and health care providers to make more effort in preventing each disease that could take away the lives of many.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute of Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Resource Centre and European Research Council.