Helping people with diabetes live a healthier life through exercise

People with type 2 diabetes often have difficulty controlling blood sugar levels and exercising. It’s common for those with this debilitating disease to develop problems with their heart and blood vessels – most (70-80%) will die from heart disease or a stroke.

Professor Michelle Keske’s research has shown that impaired blood flow through small blood vessels (the microvasculature) in skeletal muscle contributes to poor blood sugar control and reduced exercise performance in people with type 2 diabetes.

“This is because these small blood vessels help deliver glucose to muscle for storage after the consumption of a meal, and deliver oxygen to help muscle contract (exercise),” she explained.

Now, through a National Heart Foundation Vanguard grant, Professor Keske is aiming to boost microvascular health in skeletal muscle of people with type 2 diabetes and heart failure to help them control their blood sugar levels and improve their ability to perform exercise.

“This project will investigate the effect of a home-based, fully supervised exercise intervention as a practical and novel microvascular-based therapy,” Professor Keske said.

Professor Keske is hoping that the project will demonstrate that the smallest blood vessels in our body are an important target for improving blood sugars and exercise capacity in people with both type 2 diabetes and heart failure.

“Establishing that our home-based exercise program is directly linked to better health outcomes in these patients will change their future treatment. This will also lay the foundation for future research investigating new microvascular related therapies to treat type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” she said.

“The outcome of this project will enable people with type 2 diabetes and heart failure to control their blood sugars and live an active healthier life.”