Cleveland Clinic Study Shows Lifestyle Modification is an Effective Treatment for Certain Chronic Diseases

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Comprehensive Lifestyle Intervention Led to Improvement in Biometric and Laboratory Outcomes

January 23, 2012

Eating healthier, exercising more, and managing stress can lead to significant, measurable health improvements for those battling obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, according to new research from Cleveland Clinic. 

The study – recently published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism – examined changes in biometric measurements (weight, height, waist circumference, resting heart rate and blood pressure) and laboratory variables (fasting lipid panel, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein) of 429 participants in Cleveland Clinic’s Lifestyle 180® program. All measured variables significantly improved after just six weeks of intervention and continued to do so after six months.

“This study illustrates that participation in a comprehensive lifestyle intervention can have clinically beneficial effects on managing – and possibly even reversing – common chronic diseases in a population of patients with multiple chronic diseases,” said Mladen Golubić, MD, PhD, medical director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Lifestyle Medicine. “This is significant as preventable chronic diseases continue to increase suffering and healthcare costs, in part due to a lack of sustainable treatment options that address their root causes – poor lifestyle choices.”

Study participants had biometric and laboratory variables measured at the beginning of the study (week one) and at weeks six and 30. The most significant changes were seen in the measurements of fasting insulin and ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein, both considered biomarkers of inflammation.

“This result strengthens the evidence that lifestyle interventions may be used as anti-inflammatory therapies to treat insulin resistance and a spectrum of inflammation-associated chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” Golubić said.

At the conclusion of the study, 244 participants had biometric measurements completed and 299 had labs drawn. Individuals in the biometric group experienced a significant decrease in weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference. Those who had labs drawn saw a measurable decrease in glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin and ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein. In addition, this group also saw a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called “good” cholesterol.

Participants also reported changes in medications throughout the course of the program. As biometric and laboratory values improved, prescription medication needs decreased in a three to one ratio. For every newly started medication or one with an increased dose, 3.3 medications were stopped, reduced in dose or avoided altogether. This ratio improved to four to one in the case of diabetes and hyperlipidemia medications.

The Lifestyle 180® program, launched in October 2008, integrates cooking and nutrition, physical activity and stress management techniques, including behavioral health coaching and therapeutic yoga, for individuals diagnosed with preventable, common chronic conditions such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and type 2 diabetes. The program has an initial four week immersion phase consisting of two four-hour classes each week followed 10 on-site sessions throughout the year and continued support via a weekly e-mail newsletter and the establishment of a buddy system.

For more information on Lifestyle 180®, visit www.clevelandclinic.org/wellness/reclaim_your_health.aspx.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S.News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,800 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic Health System includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland, eight community hospitals and 18 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and opening in 2013, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2010, there were 4 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 167,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 100 countries. Visit us at www.clevelandclinic.org/. Follow us at www.twitter.com/ClevelandClinic.

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Stephanie Jansky, 216.636.5869, janskys@ccf.org

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