To keep diabetes at bay, there’s a new and simple rule of thumb: Follow the established guidelines for heart health.
The same health and lifestyle factors that reduce the risk of heart problems can also help prevent diabetes, Ohio State University researchers have found. They assessed diabetes among nearly 8,000 people enrolled in a comprehensive stroke study, then measured cardiac health among the group using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines.
Life’s Simple 7 is a group of health measures and lifestyle factors that include weight, diet, cholesterol level, blood pressure, activity, blood sugar and tobacco use.
Those who were in the “ideal” range for at least four of the heart-health factors also had a 70 percent lower risk of developing diabetes in the next 10 years. The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia [die-uh-beet-o-low-gia].
Another takeaway from the research was it’s never too early to practice good health. Those with normal blood sugar levels who met at least four of the heart-health guidelines had a significantly reduced risk of getting diabetes. But those with prediabetes who also met four of the heart-health criteria saw no reduced risk of developing diabetes.
As with heart health, vigilance and early prevention efforts are crucial to avoiding diabetes. Those at risk of diabetes can reach a tipping point that requires interventions such as a strict diet and medication. Instead, focus on staying healthy before diabetes gains a foothold.
Benjamin Franklin got it right more than 250 years ago: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.