One negative consequence of type 2 diabetes is damage to the heart’s structure and function.

To determine the most effective way to reduce this risk, researchers recently compared the effects of three different protocols—regular aerobic exercise, dietary changes and routine care—among 87 adults with type 2 diabetes. “Heart failure is one of the most common complications in people with type 2 diabetes, and younger adults with type 2 diabetes already have changes in their heart structure and function that pose a risk of developing heart failure,” said lead study author, Gaurav Gulsin, MD, BHF, clinical research fellow at the University of Leicester, England.

Data analysis showed that those who followed the exercise program significantly improved heart function and structure. Those in the low-energy diet group did not improve heart function but did improve heart structure and vascular function. “Through this research we have shown that lifestyle interventions in the form of regular exercise training may be important in limiting and even reversing the damage to heart structure and function seen in younger adults with type 2 diabetes,” said principal investigator Gerry McCann, MD, NIHR research professor at the University of Leicester. “While losing weight has a beneficial effect on heart structure, our study shows that on its own it does not appear to improve heart function.”

Limitations of the study include the small sample size. More research is recommended. The study is available in Diabetes Care (2020; 43 [6], 1300–10).

See also: Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes