People with diabetes should regularly check for low blood sugar levels when they exercise at a high altitude. According to a small study published in The Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, exercise could cause hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar) in patients with diabetes during and after a workout.
Researchers studied seven people with type 1 diabetes, measuring their blood sugar levels before, during, and after two indoor cycling sessions that were similar to sea level and high-altitude conditions.
It was found that after one hour of exercise at 4,200 meters and during recovery, blood sugar levels were significantly lower.
Researchers believe these findings suggest that exercise at a high altitude could increase the risk of hypoglycemia in patients with type one diabetes.
If a person’s blood sugar drops too low, quick action is needed, as they may suffer from seizures, become unconscious, or die. Researchers believe this study helps to show that exposure to high altitude during exercise or shortly after may increase the risk of exercise-mediated hypoglycemia.
A Change in Guidelines
Cory Dugan of the University of Western Australia said, “We ask that future guidelines consider these findings to increase the safety of people with type one diabetes when traveling from low to high altitude areas like the mountains without any acclimatization.”
This study outlines the importance of checking blood sugar levels in different types of conditions and situations. Many people don’t realize how environmental changes can affect blood sugar, but for those with diabetes, it can mean life or death.
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