Well-regulated Blood Sugar Levels Lower the Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

The regulation of blood glucose should be part of cardiovascular prevention and health promotion measures and be included in evidence-based practice guidelines. This is the result of an extensive systematic umbrella review conducted by DZD researchers at the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden (PLID) and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

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Too-high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) as occurs in type 2 diabetes is considered one of the key risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases. But how does a blood sugar level that is well regulated by medication or lifestyle changes affect the cardiovascular system? Can this help to prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system such as heart attack or stroke? In order to answer these questions, researchers systematically reviewed current studies on preventive approaches in the field of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The analysis was based on three separate systematic literature searches with a total of 2,343 reviews and meta-analyses.

People with type 2 diabetes have a two to three times higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The current study shows that well-regulated blood glucose levels through medication can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes. The analysis also shows that individual lifestyle interventions such as a healthy diet and exercise can help to effectively reduce blood sugar levels and thus indirectly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Population-level intervention strategies reduce the risk both directly and indirectly: Physical activity in the workplace helps to avoid dangerous cardiometabolic events. In addition, measures to reduce obesity in people with type 2 diabetes also help to reduce a major risk of cardiovascular disease.

"Our results suggest that it makes sense to develop multicomponent standardized procedures for diabetes prevention and management as well as for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases," said first author Professor Peter Schwarz from the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden. The DZD scientist and further authors of the paper suggest that the regulation of blood glucose levels should also be included in evidence-based practice guidelines.

Original publication:
Peter E.H. Schwarz et al. 2018: Blood Sugar Regulation for Cardiovascular Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, JACC Health Promotion Series, Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2018, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2018.07.081