It is an acknowledged fact that for people with type 2 diabetes, they tend to have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, like the commonly seen heart attacks or strokes. Traditionally, a major factor that affects the risk of diabetes in individuals is lifestyle difference. However, fewer researches were carried out regarding how to treat patients with diabetes. To make up for this gap, researchers have begun to conduct in-depth research on exploring how changing lifestyles can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In a study published in the international journal Cardiovascular Diabetology, the researchers observed and analyzed healthy lifestyle changes in people who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and the results showed that compared with those who did not change their drinking habit, people who reduced alcohol consumption by at least two units a week or those who do not drink alcohol had a significantly lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In the study, 852 British adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were included by researchers as needed by the experiment. After participants were diagnosed with diabetes for one year, they completed questionnaires related to risk factors like diet, alcohol intake, and exercise levels. Then the researchers looked at the medical records of the participants 10 years later to analyze whether they have cardiovascular disease. The researchers said that by reducing at least two units per week (about 1-2 pints of beer per week) in one year after diagnosis of diabetes, the risk of getting cardiovascular disease would be reduced by 44%. In addition, researchers also found that if more than 300 calories per day were reduced and sticking for at least one year, the risk of death in the next 10 years would be lower, compared to those who do not change calorie intake.
Subsequent analysis by the investigators showed that the association between the reduction of alcohol consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease may not be caused by changes in other lifestyle factors in the population. For example, other factors like weight loss, diet or physical exercise changes were also studied but no correlation was found between these associations.
This finding may not apply to other study groups.
As with all other studies, this study has certain limitations. Most of the participants are white Europeans, and they are overweight at the time of diagnosis, so the results obtained may not be applicable to other populations. Although researchers used questionnaires to assess participants' diet, alcohol intake, and physical activity, these surveys have been validated in other studies, and some may misreport their behaviors. In addition, researchers focus only on participants’ lifestyle changes in the first year after being diagnosed with diabetes; however, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run.
Another factor should also be taken into consideration. Participants in this study were screened for diabetes, which may have led to a conscious focus on behavioral changes after they were diagnosed. Chances are that people may be more motivated to change their lifestyles even after being diagnosed with diabetes. In addition, participants in the survey did not receive any specific counseling for behavioral changes, so it is achievable to observe a reduction in alcohol use in other people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
In this study, the researchers first found that a reduction in alcohol intake by two units per week may have long-term health benefits for people with diabetes, and patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are advised to increase physical activity and a balanced diet. Meanwhile, they should also consider reducing alcohol intake in their daily lives.
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