WEDNESDAY, Dec. 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Exercise at a high altitude may increase the risk for hypoglycemia in individuals with type 1 diabetes, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Cory William Dugan, from University of Western Australia in Crawley, and colleagues investigated the effect of acute hypoxia (simulated high altitude) versus normoxia on blood glucose levels and carbohydrate oxidation rates during moderate-intensity exercise in seven individuals with type 1 diabetes.

The researchers found that early during exercise (<30 minutes), there was no fall in blood glucose levels under either condition. However, after one hour of exercise and during recovery, blood glucose levels were significantly lower under the hypoxic condition versus both pre-exercise levels and the normoxic condition. There was a significant rise in carbohydrate oxidation rates after exercise in both conditions that returned to baseline levels after exercise. Carbohydrate oxidation rates were higher under the hypoxic versus the normoxic condition before, during, and after exercise.

“These findings suggest that exercise performed shortly after exposure to high altitude may increase the risk of exercise-mediated hypoglycemia,” Dugan said in a statement. “We ask that future guidelines consider these findings to increase the safety of people with type 1 diabetes when travelling from low to high altitude areas like the mountains without any acclimatization.”

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