Heart health in type 2 diabetics can be improved with physical activity. Blood sugar levels can be better managed with exercise, improving heart health. The European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) is now recommending that exercise and physical activity be prescribed to type 2 diabetics as a means of improving their heart health. EAPC published their suggestions in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
First author Dr. Hareld Kemps explained, “Sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets are the most important drivers of the increasing number of patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks. Diabetes doubles the risk of mortality, but the fitter patients become, the more that risk declines. Unfortunately, the majority of patients do not engage in exercise programs.”
Dr, Kemps, along with his colleagues, offered sound advice on how doctors can prescribe physical activity to their patients. This includes offering motivation to designing a specific plan for patients to achieve their goals.
Dr. Kemps added, “Patients must be assessed for comorbidities, risks related to exercise, and personal preferences. This will be cost effective in the long run, so we have to wake up policymakers and healthcare insurers to pay for it. That needs clinicians to take the lead and call for programs to be reimbursed.”
The researchers suggest that by creating a list of goals for patients to achieve, they will be more likely to adhere to their program and not only improve their diabetes but heart health overall. Dr. Kemps provided some examples of goals that patients may want to reach for. “For an elderly person, this could be climbing the stairs in their home or walking to the supermarket – achievements that will really improve their quality of life. Being able to use less medication because of better glycemic control is also an incentive.”
Dr. Kemps advised against weight loss being a primary goal, as exercise alone isn’t enough to achieve weight loss. This may discourage some patients if they have been exercising and not seeing the results. Instead, weight loss should simply be a by-product of an overall wellness plan that incorporates exercise and a healthy diet.
Dr. Kemps concluded, “I can’t stress enough how effective even small increases in activity can benefit patients with type 2 diabetes and heart problems. Interrupting sitting with brief bouts of walking improves glucose control, while two hours of brisk walking per week reduces the risk of further heart problems.”
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