Two treatments that slow the development of diabetes have also been found to protect people from heart disease.
A new study slated for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism determined the diabetes medication metformin and making intensive lifestyle changes both produced positive changes in cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood stream.
Those changes not only help slow diabetes, but also have beneficial cardiovascular effects, according to the study, conducted as part of the National Institutes of Health's Diabetes Prevention Program.
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"Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of death and disability in people with diabetes," said lead researcher Ronald Goldberg, M.D., of the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "Our findings demonstrate that the same therapies used to slow the onset of diabetes also may help allay the risk of heart disease."
The findings are based on an analysis of blood samples from 1,645 people with impaired glucose tolerance who were divided into three groups – one assigned to take metformin, a second was given a placebo, and a third underwent an intensive lifestyle changes to improve their diet and activity levels.
The results showed people who took part in the lifestyle modification program had lower levels of triglycerides, and both the metformin and lifestyle changes were linked to reductions in the form of cholesterol tied to heart disease risk.
"Preventing or slowing the development of diabetes with these treatments also improves the cholesterol and triglyceride profile of a person's blood," Goldberg said. "Thanks to the added benefits of existing diabetes interventions, we stand a better chance of lowering the risk of heart disease in this patient population."
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