Weight Loss Not Enough for Preventing Diabetes Heart Complications

Weight Loss Not Enough for Preventing Diabetes Heart Complications

heart_stethoscopeModest weight loss in obese patients with type 2 diabetes can achieve various health improvements but does not lower the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to the new findings of a landmark US study.

The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) clinical trial found that a long-term intensive lifestyle intervention program, focused on weight loss, leads to many long-term health benefits for obese diabetic patients, including better blood sugar control and improved physical quality of life.

But latest results from the multi-center study revealed the intervention did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, which was the primary goal of the study.

For the study, more than 5,000 overweight or obese US adults aged 45-76 and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to one of two programs; lifestyle intervention involving physical activity and weight loss, or diabetes support and education, involving three annual counselling sessions on nutrition, exercise and social support.

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After a median follow-up of 9.6 years, researchers found that participants in the intensive lifestyle intervention group lost 8.6% of their initial body weight after one year, versus 0.7% among the support and education (control) group, and also maintained a greater loss (6% of initial body weight versus 3.5% cent for the control group) at the end of the study.

Despite this, the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart-related death was the same for both groups, suggesting that weight loss may not be enough to protect heart health in people with type 2 diabetes.

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However, intensive lifestyle intervention did result in a number of important health benefits such as reduced risks of kidney disease, depression and eye disease, improved glycemic control, reduced use of medications and hospitalizations, and greater initial improvements in fitness and all heart disease risk factors except LDL cholesterol.

The findings were presented this week at the American Diabetes Association’s annual scientific meeting in Chicago and published online June 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine .

American Medical ID is a proud partner of the American Diabetes Association.

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