New findings from our DiRECT study show that the low-calorie type 2 diabetes remission diet can help some people manage their blood pressure and possibly even reduce or end the need to take blood pressure medication.
In 2017, the first-year results from our DiRECT study showed that it’s possible for some people to put their type 2 diabetes into remission using a low-calorie, diet-based, weight management programme, delivered by their GP. Almost half (46%) of those who took part in the trial were in remission after a year. After two years, 70% of these people were still in remission.
This new study, published in Diabetologia, looked at changes in blood pressure in the 143 people who took part in the DiRECT trial, with more than half (78 people) on tablets for hypertension at the start. At the beginning of the trial, blood pressure medications were stopped, and only restarted if blood pressure rose. The researchers found that, overall, average blood pressure fell steadily as people lost weight on the diet. Blood pressure remained lower after the 12-week diet finished, as well as at 12 and 24 months.
For people who were not taking blood pressure medication at the start of the trial, blood pressure fell from the first week of the diet. For people who had stopped their blood pressure medication, blood pressure still fell although more slowly. Only a quarter of people needed to reintroduce their blood pressure medication during the diet period, and 28% were able to remain off their medications two years later.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson is Director of Research at Diabetes UK. She said:
“These important results show that the Diabetes UK-funded DiRECT low-calorie, weight management programme not only helps some people put their type 2 diabetes into remission, but can also lower blood pressure, allowing some people to safely stop taking their blood pressure medication.
“We’re delighted to see more evidence of the life-changing impact of the DiRECT programme on people’s health. This makes us even more determined to make sure as many people as possible have access to type 2 diabetes remission services.”
Professor Mike Lean (pictured above), Chair of Human Nutrition at University of Glasgow and co-lead of the DiRECT trial said:
“We wanted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of withdrawing blood pressure medication when beginning our specially-designed weight-loss programme for type 2 diabetes, and we are really pleased with the results. Our study shows that, in addition to possible remission from type 2 diabetes, there are other very important health benefits, as weight loss is a potent treatment for hypertension and its associated serious health risks.”
We know that remission is closely tied to weight loss, and some people have been able to put their type 2 diabetes into remission through lifestyle changes like diet or exercise. Going into remission will more than likely affect your diabetes medication needs and possibly your blood pressure medication, but it’s important to always talk to your diabetes team before making any changes to your blood pressure or diabetes medication.