Brief intense exercise may reverse heart abnormalities in diabetics

London: Intense exercise on some days may reverse heart abnormalities in people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a new study from Newcastle University in Britain has revealed.

People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely as those without diabetes to have heart disease.

The effect of diabetes on the heart happens early, with changes in the structure and function of the left ventricle (the heart’s main pump), prior to any symptomatic cardiac disease.

Despite the importance of the heart, there are few treatment options to improve its structure and function.

The researchers found that high intensity intermittent exercise significantly improved cardiac structure and function.

The exercise particularly benefited the left ventricle, identified to be altered with Type 2 diabetes, which was shown to become stronger and work more efficiently.

“The results show that exercise can begin to reverse some of the early cardiac changes that are commonly found in people with type 2 diabetes,” said lead researchers professor Michael Trenell and Dr Sophie Cassidy from Newcastle University.

In this study, the authors tested the effect of repeated short (up to 90 seconds) periods of intense cycling, called high-intensity intermittent exercise, on diabetes control and the heart.

The study included 23 people with Type 2 diabetes who were randomised to 12 weeks of high intensity intermittent exercise.

The data also suggests that this type of high-intensity intermittent exercise benefits both the heart and diabetes control, but the benefits appear to be greatest in the case of the heart.

“The strong positive effect of exercise on the heart is, although completely logical, a message that needs to be communicated to people with Type 2 diabetes more clearly,” they noted.

The findings also suggest that exercise does not have to be 30 minutes of continuous exercise.

Repeated short bouts of higher intensity exercise give strong benefits to the heart.

The paper appeared in Diabetologia – the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.