Roundup: Diabetes Cases Projected to Double by 2050; Aspirin Therapy Linked to Risk of Anemia in Older Adults; and More News

Global Cases of Diabetes Projected to More Than Double by 2050, New Study Finds

More than 500 million people are living with diabetes worldwide, and that number is projected to more than double to 1.3 billion people over the next 30 years, with every country seeing an increase, according to new research published in The Lancet.

"Diabetes was especially evident in people 65 and older in every country and recorded a prevalence rate of more than 20 percent for that demographic worldwide," states a news release on the study. "The highest rate was 24.4% for those between ages 75 and 79."

Almost all global cases, or 96 percent, are type 2 diabetes (T2D). High body-mass-index (BMI) associated with obesity was the primary risk for T2D – accounting for 52.2 percent of T2D related deaths and disability. Obesity was followed by dietary risks, environmental/occupational risks, tobacco use, low physical activity, and alcohol use, researchers said.

“The rapid rate at which diabetes is growing is not only alarming but also challenging for every health system in the world, especially given how the disease also increases the risk for ischemic heart disease and stroke,” said Liane Ong, M.D., lead author and Lead Research Scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. 

Researchers estimate that the current global prevalence of diabetes is 6.1 percent, making diabetes one of the top 10 leading causes of death and disability. At the “super-region level,” the highest rate is 9.3 percent in North Africa and the Middle East, and that number is projected to jump to 16.8 percent by 2050. The rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to increase to 11.3 percent.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 37.3 million people have diabetes in the U.S., or 11.3 percent. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 29.2 percent, or 15.9 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed). Previous recent studies have found that the rate of diabetes in the U.S. could double or triple by 2060, especially if obesity rates continue to climb.

An additional 96 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, or 38 percent of the U.S. population. Prediabetes is often a precursor to a diagnosis of diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

National Institutes of Health: Low-dose Aspirin Therapy May Increase Risk of Anemia in Older Adults

A "follow-up analysis" of data from an international clinical trial funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that daily low-dose aspirin increases the risk of anemia in people aged 65 years and older by about 20 percent, the NIH said in a statement.

"Given these findings, older adults on low-dose aspirin and their care providers may want to consider periodic monitoring of red blood cells or hemoglobin," the NIH states. Anemia in older adults is associated with functional decline, increased fatigue, disabilities, depressive symptoms, and cognition problems. Anemia occurs when the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells, which provide oxygen to body tissues.

The researchers found that low-dose aspirin increased anemia in otherwise healthy older adults. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, scientists from the Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) study examined the effect of long-term low-dose aspirin use. Previous ASPREE data indicated that daily low-dose aspirin does not decrease risk for dementia and cognitive decline; and that daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on healthy lifespan in older people.

Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued final guidelines regarding restrictions of daily aspirin intake to lower the risk of a first heart attack or stroke. The Task Force said people, ages 40 to 59, who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) — and do not have a history of CVD — “should decide with their healthcare professional whether to start taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.

In its guidance, the Task Force also stresses that “people age 60 or older should not start taking aspirin for heart disease and stroke prevention.” The new draft recommendation does not apply to people already taking aspirin for a previous heart attack or stroke.

CDC: Older Adults Should Consult Their Doctor About Getting RSV Vaccine

U.S. adults 60 and older can get the newly approved RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) vaccine when they become available this fall after discussing it with their doctor first, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D, Thursday endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations for use of new RSV vaccines from GSK and Pfizer for those 60 and older. "This means these individuals may receive a single dose of the vaccine based on discussions with their healthcare provider about whether RSV vaccination is right for them," the CDC states

Those at the highest risk for severe RSV illness include older adults and adults with chronic heart or lung disease, or those with weakened immune systems. Adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities are also at high risk. CDC estimates that RSV infections result in about 60,000–160,000 hospitalizations every year and 6,000–10,000 deaths among older adults.

The new vaccines are the first ones licensed in the U.S. to protect against RSV.

"These vaccines provide an opportunity to help protect older adults against severe RSV illness at a time when multiple respiratory infections are likely to circulate," states the CDC. "Healthcare providers should also talk to their adult patients about what other vaccines they will need this fall to help prevent respiratory infections."

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