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Study Links Depression to Premature Death in Seniors with Diabetes

Update Date: May 30, 2014 03:52 PM EDT

Researchers have previously found that seniors with diabetes or depression have a higher risk of death than seniors without either one of the two conditions. In a new study led by researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the team examined the effects of suffering from both health conditions on the risk of premature death in older individuals. They reported that diabetic seniors who are also depressed have an even greater risk of dying early in comparison to seniors of the same age that do not have depression.

For this study, the researchers analyzed data on 3,341 diabetic participants taken from the Translating Research Into Action for Diabetes study, which gathered medical information via health insurance claims, medical chart and phone interviews. The study covered 10 different health plans from eight states within the U.S. 1,402 of the participants were aged 65 and older whereas 1,939 participants were between the ages of 18 and 64. The participants were given a baseline interview at the start of the study. A follow-up survey was administered six to seven years later. The researchers also calculated the participant's mortality risk.

The researchers discovered that people who had diabetes and depression were 49 percent more likely to die prematurely when compared to diabetic people without depression. This correlation was even stronger when the researchers looked at older individuals. Diabetic seniors with depression were 78 percent more likely to die early in comparison to diabetic seniors without depression. The researchers accounted for age, gender, race, ethnicity, income, and co-morbidities. The team noted that they did not control for non-medicinal forms of treatments for depression, such as therapy.

"We found that depression mainly increases the risk of mortality among older persons with diabetes," said study's lead author, Lindsay Kimbro, project director in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, reported in the press release. "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."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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