We all know that losing those extra pounds can make us look and feel better, but did you know they could also make our hearts stronger?
Weight Loss Strengthens Your Heart, Lowers Heart Attack Risk
A study from Turkey shows that the heart beats with greater strength when a person loses weight (Heart Vessels, March 2006).
The obese patients in the study received echocardiograms to predict their risk for heart failure by measuring their left ventricular function. After they lost at least ten percent of their total body weight, the strength of the contractions of their hearts increased significantly.
This study shows that weight loss should be part of the treatment for heart failure if the person is overweight. It also explains why being overweight makes you tired and short of breath, because your heart has to work much harder to push blood through blood vessels blocked by fat. Losing excess weight improves heart function and also helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and even certain cancers.
A blood test called HBA1C will help your doctor decide if you are at risk for a heart attack, even if you are not diabetic.
When your blood sugar level rises too high, sugar sticks to cells. Once on a cell, sugar cannot be removed and is converted to a poison called sorbitol that destroys the cell to damage arteries and cause heart attacks. HemoglobinA1C (HBA1C) measures how much sugar is attached to cell membranes. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Volume 16, 2005) shows that an HBA1C level below 4.6 percent means you are at very low risk for a heart attack.
However, each one-percent increase raises the risk for a heart attack nearly 2.5 times. So people who have HBA1Cs above 4.6 are at increased risk for heart attacks, even if they are not diabetic.
More than 40 percent of Americans die of heart attacks and other blood vessel damaging diseases and 35 percent ultimately become diabetic.
That means that all people who have HBA1Cs above 5 should consider losing excess weight by eating less and exercising more, avoiding smoking, and going on a diet that limits refined carbohydrates (foods made from flour or with added sugars), saturated fats (meat and chicken) and partially hydrogenated oils. If your HBA1C is above 6, your doctor may prescribe diabetic medications.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his fitness and health reports — and the FREE Good Food Book — at http://www.DrMirkin.com