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Eat less or exercise more? Either way leads to more youthful hearts
Date:1/10/2008

ycle because it is a crucial indicator of heart health. "During filling, the left ventricle is a suction pump," Kovcs explains. "Think of the rubber bulb of an old-fashioned bicycle horn you squeeze it (the analog of the ejection phase of the cardiac cycle), then let go (the analog of the filling or diastolic phase) and the rubber bulb springs back to its original shape, sucking air back in. Similarly, the heart's muscle and connective tissue are elastic, and after ejecting blood to the body during contraction (systole), the left ventricle springs back to draw in new blood (diastole). It's during this filling phase of the cardiac cycle that subtle changes in heart health can be most readily detected."

By the end of the yearlong study, both the calorie restriction and exercise groups of volunteers lost 12 percent of their weight and 12 percent of their body mass index (BMI), a measurement considered to be a fairly reliable indicator of the amount of body fat. In both groups, participants' hearts responded to this weight loss by gaining the ability to relax more quickly, recovering some of the elasticity characteristic of younger heart tissue. Those in the calorie restriction group achieved slightly more reduction of heart stiffness.

Cardiologists can measure delicate alterations in diastolic function because of the work of Kovcs, also professor of cell biology and physiology and adjunct professor of physics and of biomedical engineering, who developed a methodology called parameterized diastolic filling (PDF) formalism, which analyzes the filling of the heart according to physical laws and determines the chamber's elasticity and stiffness. Previous studies in humans using the PDF formalism have shown that it's a more sensitive and specific predictor of cardiovascular health than conventional indexes of heart function determined by echocardiography.

Although previous studies also have indicated that the heart benefits from weight loss, thos
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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