Patients on the road to recovery from type 2 diabetes

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January 13, 2020

First year of the Montreal Heart Institute’s Diabetes Prevention Clinic supported by Sun Life Financial

What if you were told you could reverse the course of type 2 diabetes through exercise and a healthy diet? That was the challenge this past year for patients at the Montreal Heart Institute’s Diabetes Prevention Clinic supported by Sun Life Financial. The health team is thrilled with the progress achieved by its 180 participants during the clinic’s first year.

  • 72% reduced their waist circumference by an average of 5 cm 
  • 80% lost weight, with patients losing an average of 3.72 kg (8 lb)
  • 67% reduced their circulating insulin levels by an average of 29.54 pmol/L
  • 77% reduced their glycated hemoglobin (average blood sugar over 3 months) by 0.6 %
  • 64% improved their fasting glucose levels, with a drop of 7.6%
  • 60% reduced their triglycerides by 9.5%
  • 60% increased their good cholesterol (HDL) by 5%

“These are impressive results after just one year! I congratulate the patients who undertook this challenge and I thank the clinic’s health care professionals who’ve helped guide them on their road to recovery,” said Jacques Goulet, President of Sun Life Canada. “With so many Canadians affected by diabetes, Sun Life is committed to fighting the disease and its potentially serious complications. This initiative aligns with our purpose, which is to help our Clients achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. ”

“Lifestyle is better than medication for treating diabetes, and doesn’t involve the side effects frequently associated with medication. The clinic delivers the best tools to patients, so they can minimize complications related to their disease,” said Dr. Martin Juneau, Director of Prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute and Diabetes Prevention Clinic supervisor.

The Diabetes Prevention Clinic is supervised by Dr. Martin Juneau, Director of Prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute. A multidisciplinary team of health practitioners meets periodically with participants and gives them the tools they need to make healthy lifestyle changes and improve their health. This multidisciplinary program is offered at the Montreal Heart Institute's EPIC Center, thanks to a donation of $450,000 from Sun Life.

A tailored program to meet growing demand

The Diabetes Prevention Clinic’s mission is to turn the tide on diabetes through early detection and healthy lifestyle strategies. This program meets a growing demand for preventive services for patients with diabetes and prediabetes, chronic conditions currently affecting 1 in 3 Canadians. Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication and leading cause of death in patients with type 2 diabetes[1]. Fortunately, many studies show that type 2 diabetics who make lifestyle changes, including a high-quality diet, regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, no tobacco use and moderate alcohol consumption, reduce their risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes is the 5th-leading cause of premature death in the world. Hyperglycemia from the onset of diabetes has multiple adverse effects on cardiovascular risk factors, including atherosclerosis, hypertension and dyslipidemia. These issues, together with the damage hyperglycemia causes to small blood vessels, mean type 2 diabetes increases the incidence of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times[2].This program meets a growing demand for preventive services for patients with diabetes and prediabetes, chronic conditions currently affecting 1 in 3 Canadians. Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication and leading cause of death in patients with type 2 diabetes[3]. Fortunately, many studies show that type 2 diabetics who make lifestyle changes, including a high-quality diet, regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, no tobacco use and moderate alcohol consumption, reduce their risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes is the 5th-leading cause of premature death in the world. Hyperglycemia from the onset of diabetes has multiple adverse effects on cardiovascular risk factors, including atherosclerosis, hypertension and dyslipidemia. These issues, together with the damage hyperglycemia causes to small blood vessels, mean type 2 diabetes increases the incidence of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times[4].

Sun Life in the community

At Sun Life, we are committed to building sustainable, healthier communities for life and we’re proud to hold the Caring Company designation from Imagine Canada. Community wellness is an important part of our sustainability commitment and we believe that by actively supporting the communities in which we live and work, we can help build a positive environment for our Clients, Employees, advisors and shareholders. Our philanthropic support focuses on two key areas: health, with an emphasis on diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research initiatives through our Team Up Against DiabetesTM platform; and arts and culture, through our award-winning Making the Arts More AccessibleTM program. Since 2012, Sun Life has committed $31 million globally to support diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research initiatives. In Quebec our sponsorship and donation initiatives also focus on home economics and financial education.

We also partner with sports properties in key markets to further our commitment to healthy and active living. Our Employees and advisors take great pride in volunteering over 29,000 hours each year and contribute to making life brighter for individuals and families across Canada.

About the Montreal Heart Institute

Founded in 1954, the Montreal Heart Institute constantly aims for the highest standards of excellence in the cardiovascular field through its leadership in clinical and basic research, ultra-specialized care, professional training and prevention. It houses the largest cardiovascular research center in Canada, the largest cardiovascular prevention center in the country, and the largest cardiovascular genetics center in the country. The Institute is affiliated with the University of Montreal and has more than 2,000 employees, including 245 doctors and more than 85 researchers.

About the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation

Founded in 1977, the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation raises and administers funds to support the Institute's priority and innovative projects and fight cardiovascular diseases, the world's number one cause of mortality. Its philanthropic events and the contributions of its donors have enabled this leading cardiovascular health care organization to become the largest cardiac research centre in the country. Since its creation, the Foundation has raised more than $283 million in donations. Its 27,514 donors helped make important discoveries and support specialists, professionals and researchers of the Institute to provide care at the cutting edge of technology to tens of thousands of patients in Quebec.

About the EPIC Center

The MHI's EPIC Center is the largest centre for cardiovascular disease prevention in Canada, with more than 5500 registered members. The Center has a bit more than 80 employees and is part of the Prevention Branch of the Montreal Heart Institute. The centre is for healthy people who wish to keep it that way (primary prevention) as well as for patients who had a cardiac accident (readaptation and secondary prevention). The staff includes physicians, cardiologists, internists, emergency physicians, a physiologist, visiting professors, nurses, nutritionists, kinesiologists and rescuers.