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How losing weight changes your heart
Topic Started: Feb 18 2012, 06:01 AM (349 Views)
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If getting in shape feels like a far-off goal, it’s time to turn around that attitude. Even a small amount of weight loss can pay off for better heart health.

"There is no doubt that just by losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, you can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke," says E. Dean Nukta, MD, medical director of interventional cardiology at Fairview Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic Hospital.

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in The New England Journal of Medicinefound that as long as you cut calories, the type of diet you use doesn’t matter as much as experts once thought it did. Additionally, you may not need to worry much about a specific balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — reducing calorie intake alone can help you reap heart health benefits.

Maintaining a healthy weight is, of course, a hefty part of heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66 percent of American adults are considered overweight, and 32 percent of them are obese. Starting small might be a more effective way to approach weight loss.

Nukta suggests cutting back about 500 calories a day and getting at least 90 minutes of physical activity a week to get the ball rolling. Then work up that exercise routine to the American Heart Association recommended two-and-a-half hours a week.

What Happens to Your Heart As You Lose Weight?

Here’s what losing 10 percent of your body weight would look like.
•Blood vessels. Losing weight reduces your heart’s workload, says Dr. Nukta. Blood vessels supply the heart with the blood it needs to keep pumping. As you shed pounds, there’s less fat lurking around and forming plaque that can build up and clog your coronary arteries, causing a heart attack. Reduce your weight, reduce your risk. "There is a direct relationship between a healthy weight and blood pressure. If you lose weight, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure medications or even eliminate them," Nukta says.
•Blood fats. The blood fats, or blood lipids, in your bloodstream change when you shed pounds. “Weight loss can make your triglycerides go down, your LDL cholesterol go down, and your HDL cholesterol go up," says Nukta. That means there are more good cholesterol and less bad cholesterol and fat floating in your bloodstream.
•Blood clots. Sometimes blood slows down and can form clots. Healthy weight and lower blood pressure generally mean fewer blood clots, so slimming down slightly makes it less likely that a clot will break away and travel to your heart, lungs, or brain.
•Your belly. Fat around the belly and the heart are especially detrimental to heart health. A 2011 study published in the journal Cardiology found that even normal-weight people with a “beer belly” or “muffin top” and heart disease have an increased risk of death than those with differently distributed weight. And research shows that hidden fat around the heart may be an even bigger indicator of cardiac disease than the waistline.

Last Updated: 02/08/2012
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