Following CV guidelines also cuts long-term diabetes risk

Following simple heart health guidelines may also cut individuals’ 10-year risk of developing diabetes, Ohio State researchers reported Jan. 16.

Joshua J. Joseph, MD, of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, led a study of 7,758 participants in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke study) database, tracking their cardiovascular health and diabetic status over 10 years. None of the patients had diabetes at the study’s baseline, and Joseph’s team used the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” as a guide for measuring cardiovascular health in the population.

The AHA’s Simple 7 suggests seven factors—physical activity, diet, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and tobacco consumption—determine our cardiovascular health (CVH). Joseph et al. used those guidelines to categorize participants based on the number of ideal CVH components they reported.

During the study, there were 891 incident diabetes cases, the authors said. Subjects who exhibited at least four of the ideal CVH components and had normal fasting glucose were 80 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who reported following one CVH guideline or less, while those with impaired fasting glucose at baseline saw a minor 13 percent reduced risk.

“What’s interesting is when we compared people who had normal blood glucose and those who already had impaired blood glucose,” Joseph said in a press release. “Those in normal levels who attained four or more guideline factors had an 80 percent 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.”

He said he and his colleagues’ findings underline the importance of practicing preventive strategies from a young age.

“Healthy people need to work to stay healthy,” he 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.”

Joseph et al.’s findings were published in Diabetologia Jan. 15.