The diabetes warning that comes from your arteries

Has your doctor ever talked to you about “vascular compliance?”

It’s actually a fancy term for how stiff or flexible your arteries are. And it’s key to maintaining healthy blood pressure and stopping serious disorders like heart attack, stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, researchers are finding that vascular compliance may be an indicator of another serious health condition that’s become widespread in the U.S. and around the world…

Arterial stiffness as an indicator of diabetes risk

Previous research has shown that high blood pressure (or hypertension) is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. And arterial stiffness, a common finding in people with hypertension, is also connected with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

So researchers set out to see which of these two factors may be more effective in predicting future type 2 diabetes risk, since early intervention can help prevent the onset and slow the progress of the condition.

What they found may change the way doctors identify patients most at risk for diabetes…

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Dr. Anxin Wang, senior study author and a researcher, along with his team, took a close look at health data from over 11,000 participants in the Kailuan study, an ongoing study of adults aged 18 to 98 years in Tangshan, China. That study included measurements of artery wall stiffness, which were calculated by using a brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity — a standard technique that measures the rate at which pressure waves move down the blood vessels.

They compared the risk of type 2 diabetes among people in four groups:

  • Those with normal blood pressure and arteries with normal amounts of stiffness (considered “ideal vascular function”).
  • Those with normal blood pressure with stiffer arteries.
  • Those with high blood pressure and normal artery stiffness.
  • Those with high blood pressure with stiffer arteries.

The double cardiovascular whammy

How did the data pan out?

Compared to the group with ideal vascular function:

  • Participants with both hypertension and elevated arterial stiffness had the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to the group with ideal vascular function.
  • Those with normal blood pressure and stiffer arteries also had an elevated risk of type 2 diabetes compared with the ideal vascular function group.
  • Participants with high blood pressure and normal artery stiffness had the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you think that’s surprising, you’re not alone…

“We were surprised to find that people with increased arterial stiffness were more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, whether they had high blood pressure or not,” Wang said. “These results provide strong evidence that measuring arterial stiffness may be a better predictor than blood pressure in determining an individual’s future risk of Type 2 diabetes.”

One thing to note is that the study defines hypertension by the Chinese and international standard of 140 mm Hg/90 mm Hg or greater resting blood pressure. The guideline from the American Heart Association in the U.S. considers hypertension to be blood pressure of 130 mm Hg/80 mm Hg or higher.

They also found that this dangerous combo of high blood pressure and stiffer arteries was more likely to occur in:

  • Men
  • Older people
  • Those who had a higher body mass index and higher heart rate and reported smoking and drinking alcohol

As if the news wasn’t bad enough, those with increased arterial stiffness also had higher fasting blood glucose and cholesterol levels compared to participants who did not.

“These findings provide new insight into the prevention of type 2 diabetes, indicating that early detection and treatment for high blood pressure and arterial stiffness may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” Wang says.

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Supporting your arteries

The American Heart Association says several healthy lifestyle choices will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by keeping your heart healthy. They identify them as “Life’s Essential 8” and it’s great advice to follow — so check out the link for their checklist.

But how can you keep your arteries from stiffening up? Turns out there is one thing you can do right away…

Increase your vitamin K2 intake. Vitamin K2 has been shown in multiple studies to be supportive of the health of the vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) in the walls of your arteries. These cells are what keep our arteries smooth and flexible when we’re young. Unfortunately, as we age, the VSMC in our arteries age along with us and don’t function as well.

In one study, vitamin K2 has been found to hamper the death (or apoptosis) of VSMC, as well as reduce changes in the VSMC phenotype.

Another study indicates increased vitamin K2 may reduce arterial stiffness, slow the progression of vascular and valvular calcification, lower the incidence of diabetes and coronary artery disease and reduce death from cardiovascular causes.

There’s a high level of vitamin K2 deficiency among the U.S population, and some experts believe the recommended intake is suboptimal. So adding foods with vitamin K2 will help boost your levels.

You can get vitamin K2 from animal sources like beef, bison, goose, dairy products, chicken and organ meats like liver and some leafy greens. But a specific form of vitamin K2 known as MK7 has shown in research to be especially beneficial to increase arterial elasticity. A great source of MK7 is natto, a Japanese dish made of fermented soybeans.

Editor’s note: Have you heard of EDTA chelation therapy? It was developed originally to remove lead and other contaminants, including heavy metals, from the body. Its uses now run the gamut from varicose veins to circulation. Click here to discover Chelation: Natural Miracle for Protecting Your Heart and Enhancing Your Health!


Artery stiffness may predict Type 2 diabetes risk better than BP and standard risk factors — American Heart Association

Vitamin K2—a neglected player in cardiovascular health: a narrative review — openheart

Vitamin K2 – Vital for Health and Wellbeing — Kappa Bioscience

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.