Diabetics: STOP Doing This to Cut Risk of Premature Death

Having Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to mean a life of disability or early death. A few lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, can reduce those risks, especially the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Kicking cigarettes to the curb and closely following treatment protocols can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease “significantly,” according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In some cases, the risk can be completely eliminated.

Aidin Rawshani, medical intern and doctoral student at the Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, and author of the report, said:

“This is definitely good news. The study shows that patients with Type 2 diabetes with all risk factors within therapeutic target range had an extremely low risk of premature death, heart attack, and stroke.”

For the study, researchers culled data from the Swedish National Diabetes Register of approximately 300,000 people with Type 2 diabetes in the period 1998-2015. The team compared the patients with up to 5 times as many gender- and age-matched individuals from the general population as a control group.

Type 2 diabetes patients were 10 times more likely than people without the disease to suffer a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, the study found. In general, those individuals have a 45% greater risk of heart failure. [2]

These individuals also had 5 times the risk for premature death compared to the control group.

Read: Immediate and Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Falling into the first category is dependent upon controlling a number of risk factors – blood pressure, long-term blood sugar, blood lipids, renal function, and smoking – and adherence to medication, the authors wrote. Out of all of these risk factors, smoking was found to be the most important for premature death. Elevated blood glucose was the 2nd most important risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Read: 5 Blood Sugar-Regulating Foods for Diabetics

Rawshani said:

“By optimizing these 5 risk factors, all of which can be influenced, you can come a long way. We have shown that the risks can be greatly reduced, and in some cases may even be eliminated. [1]

The study also shows that the risk of complications, especially heart failure, is greatest among those under 55 years. This makes it extra important to check and treat risk factors if you are younger with Type 2 diabetes.”

Sources:

[1] Science Daily

[2] UPI

Loneliness, Isolation Are Bigger Health Threats than Obesity

Obesity always makes headlines for being one of the biggest health threats in the U.S. (as well as globally). But according to a recent study, loneliness and social isolation may be even more deadly than obesity or than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Lack of social connection can be so deadly, in fact, that the feeling of loneliness is a stronger predictor of mortality than obesity. [1]

Social isolation and loneliness are different, but they are typically connected. Social isolation, or lack of social connection, means you have a lack of contact with other people. Loneliness is more about lacking an emotional connection, and it’s something you can feel even if you’re surrounded by people.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and her colleagues discovered that social isolation and loneliness may increase the risk of premature death by as much as 50%.

The researchers came to these conclusions by conducting two meta-analyses of studies exploring potential links between loneliness, social isolation, and mortality. [2]

Their findings were presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, held in Washington, D.C.

More than 300,000 adults encompassing 148 studies were involved in the first meta-analysis, while the second included 70 studies involving over 3.4 million adults.

In the first meta-analysis, Holt-Lunstad and her team found that the risk of dying early was 50% lower among people who said they had good social connections, compared with those who reported being more socially isolated.

The team found in the second meta-analysis that loneliness, social isolation, and living alone all increased the risk of early death.

Overall, the combination of loneliness, social isolation, and living alone was found to increase the risk of premature death as much, if not more, than obesity and other major health conditions. By comparison, obesity increases the risk of dying before age 70 by about 30%. [1] [3]

Holt-Lunstad said:

“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.” [3]

This, according to Holt-Lunstad, is worrisome considering that the aging population is growing. [2]

“Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a ‘loneliness epidemic.’ The challenge we face now is what can be done about it.” [2]

She continued:

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need––crucial to both well-being and survival.

Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment.

Yet an increasing portion of the population now experiences isolation regularly.” [3]

That’s why she believes that social connections must be treated as a public health concern. To ease the burden, Holt-Lunstad says she thinks policy makers and community leaders need to provide even greater opportunities for locals to come together, such as by adding recreation centers and community gardens.[1]

Additionally, schools should emphasize the importance of friendship and connectedness, she said, and doctors should include social connectedness in medical screening.

So many people boast hundreds of Facebook “friends” but can barely count on two hands how many true friends they have in real life (if they can tell the difference at all).

If you feel that you’ve become socially isolated, why not try volunteering? It’s a great way to do good, feel better about yourself, and meet new people, i.e., potential friends.

Isolation increases your risk of premature death, but volunteering has been shown to lower the risk.

Sources:

[1] Pulse Headlines

[2] Medical News Today

[3] The Telegraph


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Study Shows Why It Is So Important to Maintain a Steady Weight

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how easy it is to gain a few pounds – or how difficult it can be to lose it! Five pounds might seem like little more than a nuisance, but a recent study indicates that packing on just a few pounds can increase your chances of developing heart failure. [1]

A little weight gain can lead to a lot of health problems because packing on pounds can alter the structure of the heart and its ability to pump blood.

It sounds like doom and gloom, but the solution is simple: Drop the weight.

By “simple” I don’t mean it’s easy to do, because if that was the case, people would do it more often. But the solution is simple in that a few extra pounds doesn’t have to cut your life short, and you don’t have to go under the knife or take a bunch of risky pharmaceuticals to fix the problem.

Dr. Ian Neeland, the lead researcher behind the study, said:

“People who gain weight, even as little as 5%, are more likely to have thickening of the left side of their heart, which is a well-established indicator of heart failure.”

Read: 11 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

According to Neeland, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, these individuals “were also more likely to have decreases in their heart’s pumping ability.” But those who lose the weight, he said, improve their heart’s pumping ability and decrease the thickness of the organ’s muscle, and that likely lowers their risk for heart failure.

Belly fat is especially dangerous, as it can accumulate around the organs and produce hormones that can damage the heart and cause inflammation, Neeland explained. The extra weight itself puts a strain on the heart, forcing it to pump harder. All of that extra work can lead to thickening of the heart muscle, and “Thick hearts can’t compensate for the change and can ultimately fail,” he said.

Losing weight may reverse some of the damage to your heart, but it’s (obviously) best to keep the weight off in the first place.

Thank Goodness the Heart is “Dynamic”

For the study, researchers analyzed health data from 92,837 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, and 25,303 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Women reported their weight at age 18, while the men recalled their weight at age 21. [2]

At the beginning of the study, more than 1,200 men and women, average age 44, who didn’t have heart disease or any conditions that put them at risk for heart disease when the research began were given MRI scans of their heart. This was repeated 7 years later. [1]

Those who increased their weight by as little as 5% were found to be more likely to have thickening and enlargement of the left ventricle, which is the lower chamber of the heart. This is considered a precursor to heart failure. [2]

Participants who gained 5-22 pounds by the age of 55 had an increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, obesity-related cancer, and premature death. The more weight a person gained, the higher their risk.

For every 11 pounds gained:

  • There was a 30% increase in the risk for Type 2 diabetes
  • A 14% increase in the risk for high blood pressure
  • A 6% increase in the risk for obesity-related cancers
  • A 5% increase in the risk for dying early

What’s more, every 11-pound weight gain reduced the likelihood a participant would score well on a healthy aging assessment of physical and cognitive health by 17%.

Additionally, those individuals were more likely to have small decreases in their heart’s pumping ability.

The findings remained steadfast even after Neeland and his colleagues adjusted for other factors that can affect the heart, including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol use.

But participants who lost the weight were more likely to see a decrease in the thickness of their heart muscle, so all was not lost by the extra pounds.

It didn’t appear to make a difference how much a person weighed at the start of the study, but Neeland said that even if you’re normal weight, slight weight gain can damage your heart over time.

Yo-yo dieting can be just as unhealthy as being overweight. So, if you lose weight, make every effort to keep it off.

Dr. Byron Lee, a professor of medicine and director of the electrophysiology laboratories and clinics at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study, said:

“Gaining weight is bad for you, period.

In this study, we find out another reason why gaining even a few pounds over time has negative effects on the heart. Patients need to realize that keeping fit is better than any medication a doctor can give them for their long-term health.” [1]

Sources:

[1] Health Day

[2] Today


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