Heart health could be key to type 2 diabetes prevention

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 17 Jan 2019
Heart health could be key to type 2 diabetes prevention
Making lifestyle and health changes that are good for the heart could help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, according to US researchers.

Those who had normal blood glucose levels at the beginning of the study and made a higher number of heart-healthy lifestyle changes had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

While those who already had prediabetes or impaired fasting glucose had no altered diabetes risk, we know from previous research that people with prediabetes can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by eating a real-food diet and getting regular exercise.

Teams from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine tracked more than 7,500 participants who all had their heart health and type 2 diabetes incidence tracked throughout.

They were encouraged to follow the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7, which was developed in a bid to improve the public's cardiovascular health.

The seven steps involved behaviours designed to improve cardiovascular health: getting more exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight and levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and limiting tobacco use.

The findings showed those who adhered to at least four of the seven recommended factors had a 70% lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes over the next decade.

Dr Joshua J Joseph, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said: "What's interesting is when we compared people who had normal blood glucose and those who already had impaired blood glucose. Those in normal levels who attained four or more guideline factors had an 80% lower risk of developing diabetes. Those who were already diabetic or prediabetic and met four of the factors had no change in lowering their risk for diabetes."

Dr Joseph added that "healthy people need to work to stay healthy", and doing so could reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

Similarly to the growing popularity of parkrun in the UK, community outreach is one way Dr Joseph and his team put their research to practical use. They attend wellness walks, community days and other gatherings around central Ohio to help educate people about diabetes prevention and starting healthy habits.

Dr Joseph said: "We don't wait for people to come to us as patients. We're very engaged in taking our work from the lab and applying it to our populations so we can help keep our communities healthy."

The study findings have been published in the Diabetologia journal.
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