This site is intended for health professionals only

Dieting "reverses artery damage"

Damage to arteries in obese people can be undone through dieting, a study has claimed.

Low-carbohydrate, low-fat or Mediterranean-style diets are effective, according to research published in Circulation: Journal Of The American Heart Association.

Any patient in the study who lost a moderate amount of weight and managed to lower their blood pressure ended up with healthier arteries.

Ultrasound measured the thickness and wall volume of carotid arteries, which channel blood to the brain. Thicker, heavier arteries suggested more fat in the walls of blood vessels, known as atherosclerosis, which is linked to stroke and heart attacks.

Within two years the carotid arteries of dieting patients lost an average 5% of their wall volume and had thinned by 1.1%. Patients whose arteries improved the most lost more weight and decreased their blood pressure the most.

The findings showed that sustained moderate weight loss is linked to artery damage reversal.

Study leader Dr Iris Shai, from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said: "The effect is more pronounced among mildly obese persons who lose more than 5.5 kilograms of body weight and whose systolic blood pressure (the pressure with each heart beat) decreases by more than 7 mmHg (millimetres of mercury)."

Copyright © Press Association 2010