New analysis of an abandoned trial has shown that participants with type 2 diabetes who achieved diabetes remission saw rates of heart and kidney disease cut by more than 30%, compared to those who did not achieve remission.

The Look AHEAD trial involved 5,000 people with type 2 diabetes and looked at the effect of lifestyle changes on weight loss and heart health.

It was stopped early because the lifestyle efforts “failed” to have an impact on reducing cardiovascular events in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, new analysis shows achieving diabetes remission is linked to reductions in rates of heart and kidney disease.

Dr Edward Gregg, from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Ireland, said: “As the first intervention study to associate remission with reduction of diabetes-related complications, this is encouraging news for those who can achieve remission from type 2 diabetes.”

The Look AHEAD study involved just over 5,000 people with obesity or overweight and type 2 diabetes.

The group had an average age of 59 and a body mass index of almost 36. Just over half of participants were female.

The latest analysis found that the greatest benefits to heart and kidney health were found the longer an individual had spent in diabetes remission.

In particular, four years’ remission was linked to a 55% lower risk of CKD and a 49% lower risk of heart disease.

Another finding was that someone’s likelihood of achieving remission was increased if they had had diabetes for a shorter amount of time, had a lower starting HbA1C (average blood sugar level over a three-month period), and a greater degree of weight loss.

Researchers also point to their findings to highlight the difficulty in keeping weight over longer periods of time, as they found that the percentage of people in remission dropped significantly to only 3% when they entered the eighth year of the trial.

Read the study in the journal Diabetologia.

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