Heart healthy lifestyle reduces risk of diabetes

Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine say that lifestyle and health factors that are good for your heart can also prevent diabetes.

The medical school team, led by assistant professor and endocrinologist Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, assessed diabetes among 7,758 participants in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study and used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 as a guide for measuring the group’s heart health.

The Life’s Simply 7 health factors and lifestyle behaviors associated with cardiovascular health are physical activity, diet, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and tobacco use.

Overall, study participants in the recommended, ideal ranges for at least four of the seven factors had a 70 percent lower risk of developing diabetes over the next decade.

This research proves using prevention strategies from the very beginning is key to helping Americans avoid diabetes, Joseph said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes is a growing problem in the United States, with nearly a third of the population living with diabetes or prediabetes.

“Healthy people need to work to stay healthy,” Joseph said. “Follow the guidelines. Don’t proceed to high blood sugar and then worry about stopping diabetes. By that point, people need high-intensity interventions that focus on physical activity and diet to promote weight loss and, possibly, medications to lower the risk of diabetes.”

The research project was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The research published in mid-January in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, adds to the collective understanding of how physicians can help their patients prevent a number of serious diseases, including heart disease, cancer and now diabetes, said Dr. K. Craig Kent, dean of the College of Medicine. EurekAlert, the online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also reported on the research work.