NEW YORK (Reuters Health). People suffering from type 1 diabetes may need to be more vigilant when engaging in high-altitude activities like hiking or skiing. A small study found that there was a risk of low blood sugar that was associated with physical exertion at high altitudes.
Cory Dugan, from the School of Human Sciences at the University of Western Australia in Crawley, stated that the findings should “raise awareness” of the potential complications for people who suffer from T1DM when exercising at high altitudes.
Dugan declared that “more attention should be given in order to ensure the health and safety of all people with diabetes who exercise or travel at high altitudes.”
The current guidelines for exercising for people suffering from T1DM don’t consider the effects of high altitude on blood glucose levels during exercise. This is what Dugan and his colleagues noted in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
They studied seven patients who suffer from T1DM by measuring blood glucose levels prior to, during and after two indoor cycling sessions that mimicked conditions at sea level (normal oxygen) as well as conditions at high altitude (low oxygen).
During exercise, less than 30 minutes, there was not a drop in blood glucose.
After an hour of training at a simulation of 4,200m (about half the height as Mount Everest), and during recovery blood sugar levels were significantly lower in hypoxic conditions than they were in the pre-exercise (P=0.008) or normal oxygen conditions (P=0.027).
Both conditions led to significant increases in the rate of metabolism of carbohydrate. The levels returned to baseline following exercise. Prior to, during and after exercise, carbohydrate oxidation rates were higher under the high-altitude (hypoxic) situation.
These results suggest that T1DM patients may be more susceptible to hypoglycemia if they are physically active at high altitudes.
Dugan told Reuters Health that “environmental conditions like high altitude, must be considered when forming guidelines concerning glucoregulation during both rest and exercise.”
He advised that it would not be appropriate to extend the findings to other groups, including individuals with type 2 diabetes.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3EwxMnY Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, online December 22, 2021.
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