The study participants were randomly assigned to either low-carbohydrate or low-fat diets. Both diet groups experienced similar improvements in heart and vascular measurements. That's reassuring for people who prefer one type of diet over the other, says de las Fuentes.
None of the patients enrolled in the study had clinically evident signs of heart failure, such as shortness of breath, coughing or fluid buildup, and none were taking cholesterol-lowering medications. About a third of them were being treated for high blood pressure.
By using advanced echocardiography and ultrasound imaging to thoroughly characterize cardiovascular health, the researchers were able to show that at the start of the study, the patients had detectable, though modest, heart dysfunction their hearts were slightly thickened, the contraction and relaxation abilities of their hearts were somewhat abnormal and the walls of their carotid arteries were mildly thickened. Six to 12 months after dietary intervention began, these indicators of heart and vascular function had become significantly healthier, and participants' cholesterol and triglyceride levels also had improved.
"Over time, obesity leads to abnormal thickening of heart muscle because the heart works harder to pump blood throughout the body," de las Fuentes says. "After a while, the hearts of obese people can lose some of their pumping or relaxation ability, leading to heart failure. But our study suggests that by losing weight, people can turn back the clock and regain more youthful hear
|Contact: Gwen Ericson|
Washington University School of Medicine