Type 2 Diabetes: Early Weight Loss May Lower Long-Term Cardio Risk

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There’s plenty of evidence that people with diabetes who lose weight can lower their HbA1c level, improve their cholesterol, and maintain healthier blood pressure. But do those healthy changes in risk factors translate into lower risk of heart attack and stroke? And if so, how much weight needs to be lost?

To answer these questions, researchers analyzed data from 725 adults in eastern England who had type 2 diabetes that had been detected during screening by their primary care provider. Most were overweight or obese at the start of the study. The researchers found that individuals who lost at least 5 percent of their weight in the year after their diabetes diagnosis were 48 percent less likely than those who maintained their weight to have had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event after 10 years.

A 5 percent weight loss was also associated with improvements in HbA1c, blood pressure, and lipids at one year, and a 10 percent weight loss was associated with improvements at five years. According to the authors, these factors might have contributed to the link between weight loss and risk of cardiovascular disease.

These findings, which were reported in 2019 in Diabetologia, suggest that in a person with a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, even moderate weight loss may lead to a substantial reduction in cardiovascular disease risk over the long term. What’s more, losing just 5 percent of one’s weight is a goal that many people will find to be achievable.