Researchers determine the incidence of restrictive lung disease (RLD) and ILD in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Breathlessness and conditions of restrictive lung disease (RLD), such as pulmonary fibrosis, maybe a late complication of type 2 diabetes. The study was published in the journal Respiration.

One in four patients in outpatient treatment settings suffers from breathlessness. Acute and chronic lung diseases are usually the main causes. Studies show that many people with interstitial lung disease (IDL) also suffer from type 2 diabetes. 

The research team, headed by Dr. Stefan Kopf, comprised 110 patients with long-term type 2 diabetes, 29 patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, 68 patients with pre-diabetes and 48 non-diabetic patients (controls). The study participants were examined for metabolic control, diabetes-related complications, breathlessness, and lung function.

It was found that people with type 2 diabetes are significantly more likely to suffer from breathlessness and RLD than the control group. RLD was found in 27% of patients with long-term type 2 diabetes, in 20% of patients with newly diagnosed diabetes, and in 9% of patients with pre-diabetes.

Diabetic Patients

Patients with pronounced symptoms and RLD also showed CT-morphologically a fibrosing interstitial lung disease. There were also differences in the morphological analysis of the lung tissue of subjects with and without diabetes. Patients with diabetes had increased pulmonary fibrosis.

Also, the study showed that RLD is associated with albuminuria. In the disease, urinary albumin levels are elevated. This may be an indication that lung disease and kidney disease may be associated with diabetic kidney disease (nephropathy). Increased breathlessness, RLD, and interstitial lung anomalies can be associated with type 2 diabetes.

In this study, the prevalence of RLD was 20 to 27% in patients with diabetes. Moreover, the radiological and histological analyses suggest an association with fibrosing interstitial lung anomalies.

Diabetes Mellitus

The current study, as well as findings from animal experiments, show a significant connection between restrictive lung diseases and diabetes mellitus. They, therefore, suspect that lung disease is a late consequence of type 2 diabetes. Patients with diabetes, nephropathy, and breathlessness should, therefore, be examined regularly for RLD.