ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Indigo Ointment Benefits Psoriasis Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Majority of College Students Report Backpack-Related Pain
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Gene Therapy May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis
CANCER
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Heart Disease, Death
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
FITNESS
Run for Your Life
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Add your Article

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