Monthly lifestyle counseling could improve health in people with diabetes

In a new study, researchers found that monthly lifestyle counseling may improve health in people with type 2 diabetes.

The research was conducted by a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

For primary care physicians caring for patients with type 2 diabetes, it’s a familiar conversation: Exercise. Improve your diet. Lose weight.

Patients with diabetes are at increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other heart events.

Physicians counsel their patients on how to make lifestyle changes to help regain control of their blood sugar levels and diminish that risk.

But does this counseling help? Should physicians continue advising patients repeatedly?

In the new study, the team found that patients who received lifestyle counseling at least once a month were at a decreased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and hospitalization for chest pain, as well as death, compared to those who received counseling less frequently.

The team examined data from 19,293 patients with uncontrolled blood glucose levels who were seen at primary care clinics between 2000 and 2014.

They also checked how frequently the patients received lifestyle counseling.

They found that most patients (16,057) received lifestyle counseling less than monthly.

Patients who received at least monthly counseling had a greater decrease in their blood glucose levels and had a lower rate of incidences of heart disease and death over the next two years compared to the group that received less frequent counseling.

The finding provides real-life evidence that lifestyle counseling can prevent strokes, heart attacks, disabilities, and even death.

The team says doctors should continue having these conversations with patients about the lifestyle changes until their blood glucose levels are under control.

For patients, it is important to bring up questions about what they can do to prevent heart attacks and strokes when they see their doctor.

Patients can solicit these conversations too and take control of their disease.

One author of the study is Alexander Turchin, MD, MS, an endocrinologist in the Brigham’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension.

The study is published in Diabetes Care.

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