Position statement on cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes is published

By Editor
5th February 2021
Cardiovascular disease, Guidelines Type 1 diabetes Type 2 diabetes

For the first time a position statement has been published providing clinicians with guidance on how to help people with Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes start exercising safely again. 

A team of international experts, including a Swansea University academic, contributed to the document, entitled ‘Acute glycaemic management before, during and after exercise for cardiac rehabilitation participants with diabetes mellitus‘.

It has been approved and published by the British and Canadian Associations of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, the International Council for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation and the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences.

At the moment is is thought around 25 per cent of people who attend cardiac rehabilitation in Europe, North America and Australia also have diabetes. This figure is increasing, largely because there are some common risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and diabetes, especially obesity and sedentary lifestyles.

While being more active is crucial for those with cardiac health problems, many worry that the exercise itself will put them at risk.

For those who have diabetes too,  there are additional worries, especially about falling blood sugar levels leading to hypoglycaemia.

This is where the new guidance can make a difference. It focuses on managing levels of blood sugar during rehabilitation activities, to reduce the risk of acute glycaemic problems during exercise. The aim is to give more confidence to those who have diabetes, so they are more likely to do the rehabilitation exercises and keep at it, improving their overall health.

The new guidance also gives health professionals clear advice covering areas such as interactions that can occur between medicines that people with both cardiovascular disease and diabetes may be using, the best types exercise for these people, as well as the ideal intensity level, and the safest times of day and the different requirements people with type 1 or typr 2 diabetes might have.

Dr Richard Bracken, one of the authors, and a diabetes expert from the A-STEM research team in Swansea University School of Sports and Exercise Sciences and the Lifestyle research group lead in the Diabetes Research Group, Medical School, said: “Exercising safely is essential to improve the health of patients with cardiovascular problems. A rising number of these patients also have diabetes, so it’s essential that cardiac rehabilitation programmes meet their needs.

“This expert guidance will mean health professionals can design cardiac rehabilitation to give patients with diabetes the reassurance they need to start and stick with the programme, boosting their overall health.”

To read the position statement, click here.

Photo by Cristina Serí on Unsplash

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