Diabetes patients at 3 times higher risk of death due to liver disease

It is well established that diabetes predisposes to heart attack, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction etc. What about the risk in those with chronic liver disease? A total of 167,621 diabetic subjects living in the Veneto Region, Northern Italy, aged 30–89 years (54.6% men), were identified in the year 2007 and their vital status was assessed between 2008 and 2010. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed with regional mortality rates as reference. The underlying cause of death and all co-morbidities reported on death certificates were scrutinized in order to identify chronic liver diseases (CLD) deaths and their main etiologies. The latter were grouped into the following three categories: (i) virus-related, (ii) alcohol-related, and (iii) non-virus, non-alcohol-related (mainly represented by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Analyses were based upon 473,374 person-years of follow-up and 17,134 deaths. An increased risk of dying from CLD in diabetic subjects was observed with an Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) of 2.47 in men and 2.70 in women. SMRs were 2.17, 2.25, and 2.86 for virus-related, alcohol-related, and non-virus, non-alcohol-related CLD, respectively. Diabetic patients have a twofold to threefold higher risk of dying of CLD, mainly associated with a non-virus and non-alcohol-related etiology, which is largely attributable to NAFLD. An early diagnosis and treatment of NAFLD, if any, may have a beneficial clinical impact on the survival of diabetic patients.

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