ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
Eat Light - Live Longer
Household Insecticides May Be Linked to Autoimmune Diseases
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart

(HealthDay News) -- Losing a lot of weight rejuvenates the physical structure of the heart, and it makes no difference whether the weight is lost by surgery or by dieting, a new British study shows.

The heart muscles of people who started with a body mass index (BMI) averaging 40 -- a BMI of 30 is the usual marker of obesity -- became noticeably thinner and more efficient when they brought their BMI down to 32.2 in a single year, according to a report in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Both diet and bariatric surgery led to comparable, significant decreases" in heart structure abnormalities and malfunction, the University of Oxford researchers reported.

Bariatric surgery is designed to induce weight loss by reducing the amount of food people can eat, the amount of food they can metabolize or both.

Weight loss averaging 21 kilograms (about 45 pounds), achieved by the 37 obese people in the study, "is typically what is seen after bariatric surgery," said Dr. Philip R. Schauer, director of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.

Noting that many of the obese people lost those kilograms by eating less, Schauer called it "quite unusual for someone to diet with that effect. These were a very special subset."

And the problem with weight loss by diet is that "weight regain is the norm, whereas with bariatric surgery there is ample evidence that the weight loss is maintained," Schauer said.

The Oxford researchers used cardiac MRI, a special X-ray technique, to obtain detailed information on the structure of the hearts not only of the 37 obese participants but also of 20 normal-weight volunteers, whose average BMI was 21. They found that the walls of the left and right ventricles, the blood-pumping chambers of the heart, were significantly thicker in the obese people. They also found impaired ability of the heart to hold blood at diastole, the resting point of the heartbeat, in the obese.

A year later, after weight loss, the heart muscles of the obese people were less overgrown and the hearts could also hold more blood. Thickening of the aorta, the main heart artery, was also greatly reduced after weight loss.

"These findings provide a potential mechanism for the reduction in mortality seen with weight loss," the researchers wrote.

And it thus helps explain something of a medical mystery -- why people who are grossly overweight are more at risk of heart attack and sudden death than their numbers show, said Dr. Christine Ren, a bariatric surgeon who is an associate professor of surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center.

"Most of them say they are pretty healthy, maybe with a slight elevation of blood pressure, but when you really drill down to it you can show an abnormal cardiac function," Ren said. "The point is that their heart is not normal and that already is having a negative effect on their health."

Losing weight by dieting is desirable, "but the problem with diets is that statistics show maintenance of weight loss by diet is extremely difficult and quite rare," Ren said.

Bariatric surgery is expensive, costing anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, she said, and it is not perfect. "There is always going to be 5 percent of these people who gain most of their weight back, but it still is the best chance of having significant weight loss," Ren said.

However, health insurance coverage of bariatric surgery is uncertain, varying from company to company and state to state, she said, and many plans are starting to put more limits on coverage.

SOURCES: Philip R. Schauer, director, Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute; Christine Ren, M.D., associate professor, surgery, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Aug. 18, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology