DALLAS (KRLD) – It’s no secret gaining a large amount of weight is bad for you, but according to a new study released by UT Southwestern, gaining even a small amount of weight can be detrimental for your health and can affect your heart.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found a weight increase as little as five percent can result in a remodeling of the heart. That’s the equivalent of a 6.5-pound gain for a 130-pound woman or a 7.5 pound gain for a 150-pound man.
Dr. Ian Neeland is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern and the senior author of the study.
His team examined 1,200 people who were healthy without any cardiac problems and conducted MRI scans on their heart, then approximately seven years later did the same thing.
“We assessed how changes in weight, body mass index and different fat distribution variables linked to changes in the heart,” Dr. Neeland said.
“We found people who gained as little as five percent weight over that time had changes in the heat that were abnormal that included enlargement of the heart, thickening of the heart walls, which makes the heart cavity smaller and harder to pump blood which increases risk for heart failure.”
He said the changes in the heart can be reversed with weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.
“We also saw that people who lost weight, even the other direction, as little as five percent had improvement in those changes. So the heart is very dynamic. It can change over time. So even small steps to improve weight can go a long way,” he said.
Dr. Neeland suggested individuals work with their doctor to determine a healthy weight depending on one’s body mass index and waist circumference.
“It really depends on the particular person, how big they are and other factors such as family history and where the weight is located. Fat that’s in the belly is certainly more dangerous than fat is around the legs and buttons,” he said.
Dr. Neeland also said the focus should be on preventing weight gain in the first place, opposed to trying to lose a large amount of weight later on in life.