The heart-healthy benefits of a weight-loss drug

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In a recent breakthrough by UT Southwestern researchers, a commonly used weight-loss medication, liraglutide, has been shown to have significant benefits for heart health, especially in individuals who are overweight or have obesity and are at high risk for heart issues.

This once-daily injectable drug, when combined with changes in lifestyle, has been effective in reducing two types of harmful fats: visceral fat and ectopic fat, both of which are closely linked to heart problems.

The study’s findings are particularly noteworthy for people carrying extra weight but do not have diabetes.

There was a substantial decrease in visceral fat, which is the fat stored deep in the abdomen around vital organs like the liver, pancreas, and intestines.

Ectopic fat, on the other hand, accumulates in places where fat is not typically found in large amounts, such as in the liver, muscles, heart, and pancreas.

The research involved 185 participants who received daily injections of liraglutide over a 40-week period.

Astonishingly, the reduction in fat within the abdomen and liver was significantly more pronounced than the overall reduction in body weight—twice as much in abdominal tissues and six times as much in the liver.

This effect was consistent among participants, regardless of whether they had pre-diabetes.

Moreover, liraglutide was found to lower blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation in individuals without diabetes, offering insight into how it might be improving heart health.

These discoveries are pivotal, considering the prevalence of obesity, which affects about one in four adults and one in five youths.

This condition significantly increases the risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, primarily through the accumulation of excess visceral and ectopic fats.

Identifying and treating those at highest risk remains a challenge, but this study suggests that liraglutide, alongside diet and exercise, could be a powerful tool in the battle against obesity-related health issues.

Obesity is more than a matter of weight; it’s a major risk factor for chronic diseases that can lead to decreased quality of life and shortened lifespan.

The findings from UT Southwestern offer hope and a possible pathway to mitigate these risks through medication.

By directly targeting the fats that contribute to heart disease and diabetes, liraglutide shows promise not just as a weight loss drug but as a means to enhance overall health and longevity for those struggling with obesity and its related complications.

This research not only sheds light on liraglutide’s potential to improve heart health but also underscores its benefits for people without diabetes.

It’s a significant step forward in understanding how targeted treatments can offer comprehensive benefits beyond weight loss, including improved metabolic health and reduced risk of chronic diseases.

As the fight against obesity and its associated health risks continues, findings like these highlight the importance of integrated approaches that include medication, lifestyle changes, and ongoing medical oversight.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing Blackcurrants could improve artery functions, blood pressure in older people.

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