Years Of Research Gives Insight Into Heart Health And Weight

Doctors in Dallas have discovered that even a small change in your weight can have a huge effect on your heart! The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The research from UT Southwestern Medical Center found that gaining as little as 5 percent of body weight (the equivalent of a 6½ pounds gain for a 130-pound woman, 7½ pounds for a 150-pound man) can lead to a remodeling of the heart, with the organ becoming bigger and thicker. 

This change leaves the heart with thicker walls and thus less space inside to hold and pump out blood, and can lead to heart failure, according to Dr. Ian Neeland, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.  

"We are talking about normal healthy individuals and even small gains in weight, less than 5 percent, which can fluctuate easily in a couple years, had significant difference," said Dr. Neeland. 

They studied MRI's of hearts from more than a thousand adults in and around Dallas County over a seven year period.

The good news though, is they found maintaining or losing weight can strengthen heart health.

"What surprised me was how plastic or dynamic the heart can be and how much change you can make with just simple lifestyle changes," said Dr. Neeland.

He says he will now focus the study on whether weight gain in certain areas of the body puts you at higher risk for poor heart health.

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