ARTERIAL stiffness can predict future Type 2 diabetes better than blood pressure, according to a new research study. Additionally, people with blood pressure as well as stiffened arteries have a higher risk of progressing to diabetes. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 37 million people in the USA were diagnosed with diabetes in 2019, and 90–95% had Type 2 diabetes. The aging population and unhealthy lifestyles have been considered high contributors to this. Previous research has confirmed that Type 2 diabetes could lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and even premature death. Of note, artery stiffness, observed in high blood pressure, is common in people with Type 2 diabetes and is also linked to insulin resistance.
A new research study, the Kailuan study, is an ongoing, prospective study of over 100,000 adults aged 18–98 years. The study, which started in 2006, covers data from 11 hospitals in the Kailuan community and encompasses 11,156 participants. The researchers collected the measurements for resting blood pressure as well as fasting blood samples every 2 years. In 2010, they began measuring arterial wall stiffness, which was calculated using brachial–ankle pulse wave velocity. Type 2 diagnosis was defined by a fasting blood sugar level ≥7.0 mmol/L, or a self-reported physician diagnosis of taking anti-diabetic medications.
By 2017, findings showed that approximately 7% of the participants had developed Type 2 diabetes. The study also showed that males, as well as people who were older, had a higher BMI, and reported smoking and drinking, were more likely to have high blood pressure and stiffer arteries. Individuals with increased arterial stiffness also had heightened fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels in comparison to participants who did not. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that modifying the study to examine BMI did not change the link between arterial stiffness and Type 2 diabetes. The results showed that with proper vascular function, individuals with higher arterial stiffness combined with high blood pressure had an enhanced risk of advancing to Type 2 diabetes. Individuals with the normal blood pressure but with stiff arteries also had a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes as compared to the group with normal vascular function. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes can be modified by healthier lifestyle choices, such as more physical activity, managing and monitoring cholesterol and high blood pressure, a healthy diet, not smoking, reduced overall stress, sustainable sleep schedule, and healthy body weight.
“Identification of individuals at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is of utmost importance since early intervention can help prevent the onset and slow the progress of the condition,” said Anxin Wang senior study author and a researcher at the China National Clinical Research Center for Neurological Diseases at Beijing Tiantan Hospital, China.