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Diabet Med. 2012 Aug;29(8):e176-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03681.x.

Multiple complications and frequent severe hypoglycaemia in 'elderly' and 'old' patients with Type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.



Elderly and old patients with Type 1 diabetes represent a growing population that requires thorough diabetes care. The increasing relevance of this subgroup, however, plays only a minor role in the literature. Here, we describe elderly patients with Type 1 diabetes on the basis of a large multi-centre database in order to point out special features of this population.


Data of 64609 patients with Type 1 diabetes treated by 350 qualified diabetes treatment centres were assessed and analysed by age group.


Compared with the age group ≤ 60 years, patients aged >60 years (n=3610 61-80 years and n=377 >80 years old) were characterized by a longer diabetes duration (27.7 vs. 7.7 years), an almost double risk for severe hypoglycaemia (40.1 vs. 24.3/100 patient-years), a lower level of HbA(1c) [60 vs. 67 mmol/mol (7.6 vs. 8.3%)] and higher percentages of microalbuminuria (34.5 vs. 15.6%), diabetic retinopathy (45.2 vs. 8.3%), myocardial infarction (9.0 vs. 0.4%) or stroke (6.8 vs. 0.3%). Elderly patients used insulin pumps less frequently (12.2 vs. 23.8%), but more often used conventional premixed insulin treatment (10.8 vs. 3.8%). Differences between elderly and younger patient groups were significant, respectively.


Diabetes care of elderly patients with Type 1 diabetes involves individualized treatment concepts. Increased hypoglycaemia risk and functional impairment attributable to diabetes-associated and/or age-related disorders must be taken into account.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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