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Background: China is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world. We analysed all the death certificates mentioning diabetes from 2002 to 2012 in Songjiang District of Shanghai to estimate morality rates and examine cause of death patterns. Methods: Mortality data of 2654 diabetics were collected from the database of local CDC. The data set comprises all causes of death, contributing causes and the underlying cause, thereby the mortality rates of diabetes and its specified complications were analysed. Results: The leading underlying causes of death were various cardiovascular diseases (CVD), which collectively accounted for about 30 % of the collected death certificates. Diabetes was determined as the underlying cause of death on 28.7 %. The trends in mortality showed that the diabetes related death rate increased about 1.78 fold in the total population during the 11-year period, and the death rate of diabetes and CVD comorbidity increased 2.66 fold. In all the diabetes related deaths, the proportion of people dying of ischaemic heart disease or cerebrovascular disease increased from 18.0 % in 2002 to 30.5 % in 2012. But the proportions attributed directly to diabetes showed a downtrend, from 46.7–22.0 %. Conclusions: The increasing diabetes related mortality could be chiefly due to the expanding prevalence of CVD, but has nothing to do with diabetes as the underlying cause. Policy makers should pay more attention to primary prevention of diabetes and on the prevention of cardiovascular complications to reduce the burden of diabetes on survival.


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BMC Endocr Disord, 15 45. doi:

© Zhu et al. 2015

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