Will Intentional Weight Loss Improve Heart Function in Heart Failure?

Although excess weight is well known to substantially increase the risk for heart disease, we and others have consistently reported that obese patients with heart failure actually live longer than those who are normal weight or skinny.

This obesity “paradox” obviously begs the question of whether or not weight loss is something that you would actually recommend to someone who is obese and has heart failure – if being obese when you have heart failure, wouldn’t losing weight make things worse?

Believe or not, there are almost no studies addressing the impact of intentional weight loss on heart function. The few available studies are largely limited to small series of patients who underwent bariatric surgery, where weight loss does show marked improvements in heart function.

But can similar effects be achieved with dietary weight loss?

This is exactly the question that will be addressed by a study to be performed in collaboration with researchers at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. The study will include twenty severely obese individuals with heart failure, who will undergo intentional weight loss using a standardized low calorie diet (OPTIFAST 900). Their cardiac function and other parameters will be carefully measured and will hopefully show significant improvements in hemodynamic function and exercise capacity.

The study is funded with a $250,000 grant provided by the Alberta University Hospital Foundation and is due to be completed within three years (if not sooner).

To watch a video on this study as reported on CTV News click here or to read more about the background on CBC News click here.

Edmonton, Alberta