April 24, 2024

New Study Finds Remission of Diabetes Linked to Lower Rates of Heart and Kidney Disease

A recent study published in Diabetologia has demonstrated the positive impact of achieving remission from type 2 diabetes on cardiovascular outcomes. The research, conducted by Professor Edward Gregg and his colleagues at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, offers valuable insights into the long-term effects of weight loss-induced diabetes remission.

The study analyzed data from the Look AHEAD trial, a 12-year study that investigated the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) versus diabetes support and education (DSE) on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other health conditions. The trial involved 5,145 adults with type 2 diabetes and overweight or obesity. The participants were randomized into either the ILI or DSE group.

For this particular analysis, the researchers classified the participants based on their remission status and compared the rates of CVD and chronic kidney disease (CKD) among the groups. The study defined remission as the absence of diabetes medications and a glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level below 48 mmol/mol (6.5%) at a single point in time.

The findings showed that participants who achieved any level of remission had a 40% lower rate of CVD and a 33% lower rate of CKD compared to those who did not achieve remission. Additionally, the study revealed that the duration of remission played a significant role in reducing the risk of these complications, with participants who experienced longer-term remission benefiting the most.

One notable observation from the study was the decline in remission rates over time. While 18% of participants achieved remission at some point during the study, only 3% maintained remission by the eighth year. This highlights the challenges of sustaining weight loss and remission through lifestyle interventions.

Furthermore, the study found that participants with shorter durations of diabetes, lower initial HbA1c levels, and significant weight loss were more likely to achieve remission. The researchers suggest that improvements in weight, fitness, HbA1c, and LDL cholesterol may explain the associations between remission and reduced rates of CVD and CKD.

The implications of these findings are highly encouraging for individuals who achieve remission from type 2 diabetes. The study highlights the potential long-term health benefits associated with remission and emphasizes the importance of weight maintenance and lifestyle interventions. While maintaining remission may be challenging, the results indicate that even brief periods of remission can significantly reduce the risk of heart and kidney disease.

Professor Gregg, the lead researcher, emphasized the significance of these findings, stating that this study is the first to establish a link between remission and a reduction in diabetes-related complications. He acknowledges the difficulty of weight loss maintenance but suggests that any success with achieving remission can lead to improved health outcomes in the future.

This study adds to the growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of weight loss-induced remission in type 2 diabetes. It underscores the importance of early intervention, weight management, and lifestyle modifications in the prevention and management of cardiovascular and kidney diseases in individuals with diabetes. Further research is warranted to explore the underlying mechanisms and to develop targeted interventions to support sustained remission and long-term health benefits.

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