06 March 2013

Measuring blood pressureDiabetes is a growing problem in Australia, it is a condition which affects more than a million Australians and which a further two million are expected to develop by 2025.

In people with diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease is the most common cause of death. Examining what impact a healthy diet has on the vascular health of people with diabetes is a research area that University of South Australia health scientists are now seeking volunteers to help answer.

A total of 50 volunteers with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are being sought to join those already involved in the study, investigating the effect that improved diet quality has on measures of vascular health in people with diabetes.

Professor Peter Clifton a Health Sciences senior researcher at UniSA, outlined the value of the study and the connection between cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“It has been shown that improving diet quality by increasing fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy foods lowers blood pressure but it is not clear what the effect of this type of diet has on other measures of vascular health, for those with diabetes.

“This is important to know as 65 percent of all cardiovascular deaths in Australia occur in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.”

Volunteers in the study will have measures of their vascular health assessed over a 12 month period with blood pressure readings noted and measures to monitor the thickness and stiffness of arteries in the body, including the neck, being undertaken, as the narrowing of arteries is a risk factor in heart disease.

In order to answer the question about diet there will be a control group in the study so half the participants will be given dietary advice and half will not, as part of the study.

Helga Linnert, one of the volunteers who decided to be part of the study, said she was keen to be involved as she was aware of the link existing between diabetes and heart disease.

“As diabetes is a growing health problem affecting so many people it is essential to help medical researchers to look into specific areas. I hope to gain more knowledge on the connection between heart disease and diabetes.

“It is also very useful to get more detailed and precise measurements regarding diabetes related problems, for example the measurement of the artery in the neck, and it is good to get some general friendly support for my health problem and for my now healthier lifestyle.”

For further information on the research and for details on how to register to volunteer please contact either Kirsty Turner or Kristina Petersen on 8302 1025 or kristina.petersen@mymail.unisa.edu.au

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