A diabetic’s risk of premature death is about double that of someone of the same age without diabetes. In addition, diabetics are twice as likely to have depression, which further increases their mortality risk. A new UCLA-led study suggests that for diabetics age 65 and older, depression is linked with a far-greater chance for early death compared with people of the same age who do not have depression. This may perhaps be because those with depression are less-likely to adhere to a regimen of prescribed medications, diet, exercise and glucose self-monitoring.
While the link between depression and mortality among people with diabetes has been the subject of other studies, this one is the first to examine the phenomenon among those 65 and older versus younger people, says Lindsay B. Kimbro, MPP, project director in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research. Each participant was given a baseline survey and was contacted for a follow-up survey six-to-seven years later. “Although depression is an important clinical problem for people of all ages, when you split the different age groups, depression in the younger group doesn’t lead to increased mortality six-to-seven years later,” Kimbro says.
Using data from the eight-state Translating Research Into Action for Diabetes study, the researchers analyzed information on 3,341 people with diabetes, including 1,402 who were 65 years of age and older and 1,939 between the ages of 18 and 64. They measured mortality risk as the number of days until death since the time of the interview. The researchers controlled for age, gender, race and ethnicity, income and co-morbidities such as heart and kidney disease associated with diabetes.
As in previous studies, the results revealed that the risk for early death among depressed people with diabetes was 49-percent higher than among those without depression; however, the correlation was even more pronounced among older adults: Researchers found a 78-percent higher mortality risk among those 65 and older than they did among non-depressed people with diabetes within that age group. For younger participants with diabetes, the effect of depression on their risk for early death was not statistically significant.
“Depression and All-Cause Mortality in Persons with Diabetes Mellitus: Are Older Adults at Higher Risk? Results from the Translating Research Into Action for Diabetes Study,” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, June 2014