Type 2 Diabetes Prognosis

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can affect many areas of health and alter overall life expectancy. The younger someone is when they are diagnosed, the more significant the impact of type 2 diabetes will be on their life expectancy.

However, type 2 diabetes can be treated and managed with medication and lifestyle changes. Changing your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar can increase your life expectancy with type 2 diabetes.

This article will discuss how type 2 diabetes changes life expectancy. It will also cover how lifestyle changes and medications can help manage the condition.

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Life Expectancy

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can shorten your life. Many health complications can stem from diabetes. This includes heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 50 is six years less than someone without diabetes.

A 2022 study found that controlling weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels can increase the life expectancy of someone with type 2 diabetes by reducing their risk of complications and death.

The study continued to illustrate improved life expectancy with the following changes:

Factors That Worsen Diabetes

Many of the risk factors for diabetes are also complications of the condition. Someone who has diabetes and high blood pressure is at a higher risk for eye and kidney diseases. Type 2 diabetes can also lower "good" cholesterol (high density lipoprotein; HDL) and raise "bad" cholesterol (LDL). This puts a person at risk for heart disease and stroke.



Lifestyle Changes That Improve Outlook

Diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and improved sleep are all lifestyle changes that can enhance the life expectancy of someone with diabetes. Learn more below.

Diet

Eating a healthy diet with minimal sugar, carbohydrates, and alcohol can help keep blood sugar under control.

Research shows that those at risk for diabetes can reduce that risk by 58% if they lose 7% of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes weekly.

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods can help manage blood sugars and reduce the likelihood of type 2 diabetes complications. These foods include:

  • Full-fiber grains like oats, brown rice, and whole wheat
  • Nonfat and low-fat dairy products
  • Fruits in moderation
  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats

Exercise

Moderate-intensity exercise of 150 minutes per week has been shown to improve blood sugar control and lower blood pressure. It may also reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease.

To get the most benefit for blood sugar control, the muscles need to be in a consistent state of increased glucose uptake. This means that there should not be more than 48 hours between exercise sessions.

The exercise doesn't need to be overly intense. It should be hard to sing but still be able to hold a conversation. while exercising Try changing up your routine to keep it interesting, or joining an exercise class for support.

Quitting Smoking

Smoking is one of the causes of type 2 diabetes. Those who smoke cigarettes are 30% to 40% more likely to have type 2 diabetes than those who don't smoke.

For those who already have type 2 diabetes, smoking makes it harder to manage the condition. Those who do stop find it easier to control their blood sugar.

A study found that women from 50 years to 60 years of age who quit smoking lived about one year longer than those who did not.

Sleep

Not getting enough sleep is associated with prediabetes, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

There is also a connection between type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. Approximately two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea.

Regular, uninterrupted sleep should be a priority as it can help improve insulin sensitivity.

Medications to Manage Diabetes

Lifestyle changes are a large part of improving the prognosis of diabetes. But along with lifestyle changes, people with type 2 diabetes will also likely need medications to manage their condition.

Someone with type 2 diabetes may take several types of medications. They include:

A healthcare provider will work to create the best plan for someone with type 2 diabetes. They will find what works best for that patient to achieve stable blood sugars. 

Monitoring Blood Sugar

Someone with type 2 diabetes should closely monitor their blood sugar as prescribed by their healthcare provider. They can do this by checking their blood glucose levels. This is done with a finger prick and placing a drop of blood on the blood glucose machine.

A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is another option but is typically used in people with type 1 diabetes. A CGM uses a small sensor that tracks blood glucose all day and night.

Taking Care of Your Heart

Diabetes and heart disease are often seen in the same people. By making lifestyle changes like exercise, dietary changes, smoking cessation, and glucose monitoring, people with diabetes can also help their heart health.

High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. Lasting lifestyle changes can lower the risk of heart disease and improve life expectancy.

Summary

The prognosis for someone with type 2 diabetes will vary based on various factors, including their lifestyle. Someone who makes positive changes to their weight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure may expect to have a longer life expectancy than others who do not make those changes. Lifestyle is not the only factor that can help control blood sugars; medications also play an important factor.

A Word From Verywell

Type 2 diabetes can be an overwhelming diagnosis. If you make significant changes in your lifestyle, you can overcome type 2 diabetes. The condition cannot be cured, but people can achieve remission by losing weight and keeping it off. Always talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment plan for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does type 2 diabetes get worse with age?

    Age is a factor that contributes to type 2 diabetes risk. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce a person's risk. If someone already has diabetes, a healthy lifestyle can help to manage their blood sugars.

  • How long do people with diabetes live?

    Your life expectancy with diabetes will depend upon several factors, one of which is your age when diagnosed. The earlier someone is diagnosed, the shorter their life expectancy.

  • Can you get over diabetes?

    You cannot be considered cured of type 2 diabetes. But you can go into remission if you have significant weight loss.

11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kianmehr H, Zhang P, Luo J, et al. Potential gains in life expectancy associated with achieving treatment goals in us adults with type 2 diabetesJAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(4):e227705-e227705. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.7705

  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Type 2 diabetes.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Put the brakes on diabetes complications.

  4. Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group, Knowler WC, Fowler SE, et al. 10 year follow up of diabetes incidence and weight loss in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes StudyLancet. 2009;374(9702):1677-1686. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61457-4

  5. MedlinePlus. Diabetic diet.

  6. American Diabetics Association. Weekly exercise targets.

  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking and diabetes.

  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The impact of poor sleep on type 2 diabetes.

  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Insulin, medicines, & other diabetes treatments.

  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and your heart.

  11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Achieving type 2 diabetes remission through weight loss.

By Patty Weasler, RN, BSN
Patty is a registered nurse with over a decade of experience in pediatric critical care. Her passion is writing health and wellness content that anyone can understand and use.