Reducing body fat linked to lower risk of heart failure in diabetes patients

waist weight fat
Understanding the relationship between heart disease and body composition has proven especially challenging. Photo: khomkrit sangkatechon / Shutterstock
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New York: Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found that reducing the level of body fat and waist size are linked to a lower risk of heart failure in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, suggests that all weight loss isn't equal when it comes to mitigating the risk of heart disease.

"Being overweight and obese are strong risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and patients are often counselled to lose weight to reduce the likelihood of developing both conditions," said study author Ambarish Pandey from UT Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.

Understanding the relationship between heart disease and body composition has proven especially challenging, Pandey explains, because there hasn't been an easy and inexpensive way to evaluate body composition.

The gold standard of determining the fat mass and lean mass is to measure it directly with tools like dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), a scan that's cumbersome, expensive and exposes patients to radiation.

For the study, the research team investigated the effects of either an intensive lifestyle intervention focused on weight loss and physical activity or diabetes support and education in more than 5,000 overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes.

The study collected information on the volunteers' weight, body composition, and waist circumference at the baseline and again one and four years later. It also tracked the incidence of heart failure in this group over a 12-year period.

Among the 5,103 participants, 257 developed heart failure over the follow-up period.

The researchers found that the more these volunteers lowered their fat mass and waist circumference, the lower were their chances of developing heart failure.

Just a 10 per cent reduction in a fat mass led to a 22 per cent lower risk of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and a 24 per cent lower risk of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, two subtypes of this condition.

A decline in waist circumference significantly lowered the risk of heart failure with preserved injection fraction but not heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. However, a decline in lean mass didn't change the risk of heart failure at all.

"Our study suggests that simply losing weight is not enough. We may need to prioritize fat loss to truly reduce the risk of heart failure," the study authors wrote.

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