Weight loss and diabetes remission offer lasting benefits for heart and kidneys - New study

Find out “Weight loss and diabetes remission offer lasting benefits for heart and kidneys” Researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have discovered a powerful link between successful weight loss efforts and improved health outcomes for people with type 2 diabetes. The study, published in Diabetologia, reveals that participants who achieved diabetes remission – meaning their need for medication and blood sugar levels (HbA1c) both decreased – also experienced a remarkable 40% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 33% lower risk of chronic kidney disease.

While earlier studies have shown that significant weight loss can reverse type 2 diabetes, this research is groundbreaking as it demonstrates the positive downstream effects of achieving remission on vital organs like the heart and kidneys. Professor Edward Gregg, Head of the RCSI School of Population Health, led the study.

The Look AHEAD trial, spanning 12 years and involving over 5,000 participants, compared the benefits of intensive lifestyle intervention (diet and exercise) with standard diabetes support and education. Remarkably, those who achieved remission – particularly those who maintained it for four years or more – reaped the greatest reduction in risk for cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

“This study offers valuable insights for developing diabetes treatment strategies that prioritize weight loss and lifestyle changes,” Professor Gregg emphasized. “By highlighting the significant impact of remission on long-term health, we can potentially improve quality of life for millions living with type 2 diabetes.”

The study also highlighted the challenges associated with sustaining weight loss through lifestyle interventions. While 18% of participants achieved remission at some point, only 3% maintained it by the eighth year. This underscores the need for further research and support systems to help people with type 2 diabetes achieve and maintain remission for long-term benefits.

How does diabetes affect the heart and kidneys

Diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, can have significant impacts on the heart and kidneys. High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can lead to damage in the blood vessels, affecting the heart and kidneys. In the kidneys, high blood sugar can damage the small blood vessels, leading to reduced blood filtration and the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). About 1 in 3 adults with diabetes has kidney disease.

In the case of the heart, high blood sugar can also damage the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease as those without diabetes.

Additionally, diabetes can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can further worsen kidney damage and raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

The link between diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and heart disease is significant, as the organs in the body are interconnected. When the kidneys do not function well, it puts stress on the heart, and vice versa, leading to a potential cascade of complications.

It’s important for individuals with diabetes to manage their condition effectively through measures such as controlling blood sugar levels, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and adhering to prescribed medications. These efforts can help reduce the risks of heart and kidney disease associated with diabetes.

Key Findings

  • Weight loss and diabetes remission are linked to significantly lower risk of cardiovascular and chronic kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes. Those who achieved remission had a 40% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 33% lower risk of chronic kidney disease compared to those who didn’t.
  • Maintaining remission for at least four years provides the greatest risk reduction for these diseases.
  • The study highlights the importance of weight loss interventions for achieving diabetes remission and improving long-term health outcomes.
  • Challenges remain in maintaining weight loss and remission over time, suggesting the need for further research and support systems.
  • The study involved over 5,000 participants and spanned 12 years, making it a robust and reliable source of data.
  • The findings offer valuable insights for developing diabetes treatment strategies that prioritize weight loss and lifestyle changes.
  • Achieving and maintaining remission could potentially improve quality of life for millions living with type 2 diabetes.

ALSO READ: Reason why weight loss is beneficial in managing type 2 diabetes

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