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"A real breakthrough": Study finds exercise will effectively fight heart disease in diabetics

Doctors previously lacked definitive evidence that such treatment was effective.

FOR THE FIRST time, research has pointed towards conclusive evidence that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chance of heart disease in those at risk of diabetes – especially for women.

Doctors had previously lacked proof that weight loss and exercise were effective in combating this.

A study conducted over 23 years and published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology showed a “statistically significant” reduction in both the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and death from all causes in those who made these lifestyle interventions.

The incidence of death from cardiovascular disease was 11·9% in the group that took part in a prevention study by Professor Guangwei Li of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital .

However, in a randomised control group, this rate almost doubled to 19.6 per cent.

Similarly, the rate of death from all cases was reduced from 38.4 per cent to 28.1 per cent.

Professor Nick Wareham of Cambridge University called the results “a real breakthrough”.

He also noted that the lifestyle changes “seemed to have a disproportionately large effect in women”.

“The sex differences might have been a result of how people responded to the intervention, but the absence of interim measures of lifestyle behavioural factors precludes investigation of this possibility.”

However, this point should not detract from the main finding: that interventions aimed at changing diet and physical activity were effective for reduction of long-term health risks.

Read: Risk of heart problems from antidiabetes drugs is being overlooked, experts warn >

More: More than half of Irish people over 50 have two or more chronic diseases >

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