Type 2 Diabetes – Decreasing the Risk of Heart Attack

Heart and blood vessel disease is a concern for anyone who has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and their healthcare teams. According to the Hoorn Study carried out on the general population in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Type 2 diabetes and blood vessel disease act synergistically to cause heart attacks.

The study, reported on in the journal Hypertension in September 2014,included 445 participants…

  • 23 percent with Type 2 diabetes, and
  • 28 percent with slightly elevated blood sugar levels.

During the 7.6 years from commencement of the study, 106 participants had heart attacks…

  • having Type 2 diabetes raised the risk for heart attacks by 69 percent, and
  • having slightly elevated blood sugar increased the risk by 50 percent.

Participants with the highest degree of insulin resistance had a 92 percent increased risk. Those with normal blood sugar levels and normal insulin sensitivity had only 85 percent the risk of heart attacks as those with higher blood sugar levels.

Those participants…

  • whose arteries did not widen as well as they should to take in more blood when needed, also had an increased risk of heart attacks, and
  • those who had both stiff arteries and insulin resistance had a higher risk of heart attacks than either of the two risk factors combined.

From these results it was concluded high blood sugar levels acted synergistically with noncompliant arteries to raise the risk of heart attacks.

Noncompliant arteries are known to increase blood pressure, forcing the heart to work harder. In 2000 the journal Circulation published a report on habitual exercise and arterial compliance. One hundred and fifty-one men between the ages of 18 and 77 were included…

  • 54 were sedentary,
  • 45 performed active recreational activities, and
  • 53 were exercised to increase endurance.

It was found middle-aged and older men who performed endurance exercises had 20 to 35 percent greater arterial compliance than the two less active groups. Of the 54 sedentary men, 20 aged 51 to 55 were given a 3 month aerobic exercise program, consisting mainly of walking. It was found their arterial compliance increased to the levels seen in the endurance-trained men.

These results appear to suggest increasing arterial compliance could be one way habitual exercise decreases the risk of heart attacks.

Physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, is also known to help decrease insulin resistance and control weight, another factor in preventing heart disease. Isn’t it great to know a simple movement like walking, of lifting and setting down each foot in turn and at a regular pace, can help prevent heart attacks.