Weight-loss May Lower Your Risk of Heart Failure

Losing a substantial amount of weight may lower your heart failure risk.

A recent study suggests that losing weight with bariatric surgery may have more heart health benefits than dropping pounds through a very-low-calorie diet program. Researchers looked at people who had a body mass index of at least 30. They weighed on average 260 pounds before treatment. They were separated into two groups: those who had bariatric surgery and those who lost weight on a VLCD.

Here’s what they discovered:

  • Four years after beginning treatment, the risk of heart failure was nearly 50 percent lower in the bariatric surgery group.
  • The rate of death and heart attack was similar between the treatment groups, however, patients in the bariatric surgery group had fewer incidences of atrial fibrillation, diabetes and hypertension.
  • People who had bariatric surgery lost more weight than those in the intensive lifestyle modification program. After one year, they had lost 41 pounds more than the intensive lifestyle group. After two years, they had lost nearly 50 pounds more.

The lifestyle modification program included a very low-energy diet of 500 calories a day for three to 10 weeks. For the next two to eight weeks, patients gradually incorporated food. After that, they participated for nine months in a weight-maintenance regimen that included regular exercise, dietary advice and behavioral therapy. One out of five patients in the lifestyle modification program dropped out by the first year.

While the findings report that heart failure risk is lower in patients who lose more weight, it does not prove that obesity causes heart failure, he said. But, patients in both treatment groups lost weight intentionally, supporting the idea.


“Our study shows an association between obesity and heart failure and offers support for efforts to prevent and treat obesity aggressively, including the use of bariatric surgery,” said Johan Sundstrom, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Bariatric surgery might affect the incidence of atrial fibrillation, diabetes and hypertension — known risk factors of heart failure — explaining the lower risk of heart failure we observed.”

The study was done in a most likely white Scandinavian population. Whether the study’s findings would relate to a U.S. population is unclear. In addition, because the study’s participants did not have heart failure before the weight-loss treatment, “the study does not provide any advice on how to treat cardiovascular disease in obese patients,” Sundstrom said.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Uppsala University, Karolinska Institute, and the Swedish Research Council.

Source: American Heart Association news release



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