Weight loss aids diabetics' hearts
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in people with diabetes.
Image: selimaksan/iStockphoto

An Australian study shows that losing 6 kg reduces artery stiffness by 20% in obese people with Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes carries a six-fold greater risk of heart disease due to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Cardiovascular disease is the commonest cause of death in people with diabetes – accounting for 68% of all deaths.

Associate Professor Katherine Samaras from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Associate Professor Christopher Hayward from St. Vincent’s Hospital have shown that arterial stiffness is directly associated with inflammation –  that is, activation of white blood cells and genes that regulate inflammation.

Their findings are published in Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research, now online.

The study was based on 14 obese people with Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. All participants underwent a calorie-restricted diet for 24 weeks, with gastric banding surgery after 12 weeks.

“We found that the degree of inflammation in fat tissue specifically predicted how much arteries relaxed during a weight loss program, meaning that people with higher levels of inflammation had arteries that did not relax as much,” said Associate Professor Samaras.

“Obesity, Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis are all associated with an inflammatory state, involving activation of immune cells in the circulation and in fat tissue, as well as an increase of circulating pro-inflammatory molecules.”

“Weight loss reduces immune cell activation and inflammation, which in turn is related to the extent that arteries can relax.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationships between weight loss-induced improvements in arterial stiffness and the immune response.”

“We believe it supports clinical weight loss interventions, such as bariatric surgery, which enable people to lose weight for the long term and improve their health.”

Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.