Healthy lifestyle choices halve the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetes patients

When we think of type 2 diabetes we generally think about glucose and insulin, and imagine that patients with this condition mainly need to be concerned about maintaining balanced blood sugar levels. While it’s true that these things are important, the reality is that diabetes causes a host of serious, even life-threatening, complications that we might never even associate with the disease. One of these conditions is cardiovascular disease – and the statistics surrounding CVD in diabetics are truly shocking.

The American Heart Association reports that at least 68 percent of diabetes patients over the age of 65 die from some form of heart disease. And adults with this condition are up to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults who do not have diabetes. (Related: Barberry juice found to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in diabetic patients.)

With these facts in mind, it is important to find ways to mitigate the risk of CVD in diabetes patients. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which found that making healthy lifestyle choices can halve the risk of CVD in diabetes patients, is therefore very encouraging.

Just three changes can reduce risk by half

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the respected Harvard University, found that incorporating three specific lifestyle changes from a list which included eating a high-quality diet, not smoking, reducing alcohol intake and exercising regularly, was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of CVD and coronary heart disease. These changes also led to a 66 percent reduction in risk of death from stroke or CVD in these patients.

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The study tracked the health and well-being of 8,970 women and 2,557 men with type 2 diabetes who had not previously been diagnosed with CVD, for an average period of 13.3 years. Follow-ups were conducted every two to four years for the duration of the study.

While just three lifestyle changes provided the benefits already noted, each additional healthy lifestyle choice resulted in a further 14 percent reduction in risk of CVD, a 12 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 21 percent reduction in the risk of stroke, and a whopping 27 percent lower risk of CVD mortality.

“These findings further support the tremendous benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle in reducing the subsequent burden of cardiovascular complications in patients with T2D [type 2 diabetes],” the study team noted.

Prevention is still better than cure

Of course, this study provides a real incentive for patients with type 2 diabetes to make significant lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of life-threatening complications like CVD. However, it is also true that T2D is almost entirely a lifestyle disease in the first place, which means that if people were to make these types of changes sooner – maintaining a healthy body weight; eating a nutritionally-dense, unprocessed diet; avoiding cigarettes; drinking alcohol in moderation; and exercising regularly – they could prevent ever developing this deadly disease. (Related: These ten foods balance your blood sugar and prevent diabetes.)

And making these changes will protect us from a host of other lifestyle diseases, too, including cancer. Why not make today the first day of the rest of your healthy life by starting to make the right choices now … before it’s too late?

Learn more about the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes at

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