Following heart health guidelines also lowers diabetes risk

About one in three Americans lives with diabetes or prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist and assistant professor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, wants to bring those numbers down. He studies various ways to prevent diabetes, and his latest work looked at how cardiovascular health can impact diabetes risk.

His team assessed diabetes among 7,758 participants in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study and used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 as a guide for measuring heart health among the group. 


The Life’s Simple 7 health factors and lifestyle behaviors that are associated with cardiovascular health are physical activity, diet, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and tobacco use. 


Overall, the study participants who were in the recommended, ideal ranges for at least four of the seven factors had a 70 percent lower risk of developing diabetes over the next 10 years. 


“What’s interesting is when we compared people who had normal blood glucose and those who already had impaired blood glucose,” Joseph says. “Those in normal levels who attained four or more guideline factors had an 80 percent lower risk of developing diabetes. Those who were already diabetic or prediabetic and met four of the factors had no change in lowering their risk for diabetes.” 


Joseph says this research proves using prevention strategies from the very beginning is key to helping Americans avoid diabetes. 


“Healthy people need to work to stay healthy. Follow the guidelines. Don’t proceed to high blood sugar and then worry about stopping diabetes,” Joseph says.

Joseph and his team put their research to practical use through community outreach. They attend wellness walks, community days and other gatherings around central Ohio to help educate people about diabetes prevention and starting healthy habits.