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The sooner, the better: weight loss reverses heart damage in young mice

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Weight loss reverses heart damage in young mice

An experimental study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins shows that weight loss and diet may reverse cardiac function but only in the young mice. Published in Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research, the study highlights the benefits of weight loss on the cardiovascular system. It seems that heart function recovery depends very much of the duration of obesity. This fact points out that it is important that the healthy lifestyle be adopted early in life in order to prevent cardiovascular disease. AlGhatrif Majd, MD, the first author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at  the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “Our research indicates that the longer mice are obese, the greater the risk that their heart damage is irreversible”. The study draws the attention that obese individuals should take very seriously into account losing weight as soon as possible.

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Lili Barouch, MD, the senior author of the study and a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that it is not known whether the same principle applies to people and that would be significant, but is to note that early weight loss is beneficial. It would be interesting to see if the same thing happens in humans.

Obesity is one of the most important health problems worldwide with an increasing incidence. WHO estimated in 2008 that about 10% of the world population suffers from obesity, and the highest rates are registered in the U.S., Australia and Canada. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at present over 35% of Americans suffer from obesity.

Obesity is an aggravating factor for a many of medical conditions: heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer etc. Several studies have shown that weight loss can reverse some of the harmful effects of obesity on the cardiovascular system, but it was not clear whether patient age or the number of years of obesity influences this. Therefore, researchers conducted a study on two groups of obese rats: a group of young mice and one of old mice. All mice were genetically engineered to be born without leptin, a hormone that plays a role in producing satiety. Absence of leptin leads to obesity because mice have no feeling of fullness. All mice had the same weight and they all lost the same amount of weight. It was found that diastolic function in young mice returned to normal. However, in old mice diastolic function remained unchanged.