Running rescues mice from diabetes: study

Our hearts don’t mind living in overweight bodies and will keep us alive as long as we work out, Norwegian research now suggests.

Running rescues mice from diabetes: study

Getting an overweight mouse to work out was key to the discovery.

“When a mouse trains, its heart starts to function normally,” said researcher Anne Hafstad of the University of Tromsø.

“I doubt any medicine can have as good a result on the heart as exercise does,” said Hafstad, writing in the Norwegian research journal, Forskning.

For ten weeks she fattened up mice on carbohydrate-rich junk food, and they responded by being lethargic and showing weaker heart rhythm. Another ten weeks of working out while on junk food followed.

Five times a week, Hafstad upped their sets of repetitious treadmill work. She said their daily lot was the equivalent for humans of walking uphill for two hours and then doing an hour of sprint intervals.

The mice’s fat count plummeted during both moderate and intense training, despite the trashy diet.

“The effect on heart function was surprising,” said Hafstad, adding: “The heart became more elastic, its chambers worked together better and oxygen use normalised.”

The research was unusual for having brought the mouse’s body into the first stages of so-called Type 2 diabetes: insulin resistance and stiffened walls in the heart. Stiffened hearts play a large part in the up to 15,000 acute heart attacks experienced in Norway every year.

The mice’s diabetic heart made it all the more surprising that exercise changed the condition of all 20 animals tested.

“We've never had such good results before, even with anti-diabetes treatment,” she said.

“We have never before seen a normalisation of heart function.”

She said the mice went from being stressed and lethargic to being happy after exercising.

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Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office