Around one in 10 Americans have Type 2 diabetes, making the disease one of the most common across the country. It typically begins with insulin resistance, or a condition where the body’s cells no longer adjust to the pancreas-produced insulin needed to control sugar in the blood.
One of the risks of Type 2 diabetes is heart failure, which results from damage that occurs to the heart muscle from raised blood sugar and systemic inflammation associated with the condition. Following this diagnosis, doctors commonly advise treatment options like medication and weight loss, as well as a change in diet.
But new research indicates that not all weight loss carries the same benefits.
Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center analyzed data from more than 5,000 participants in a study examining the effects of intensive lifestyle interventions for weight management. They learned that adults who had lost weight and lowered their fat mass and waist circumference were less likely to develop heart failure.
However, losing lean mass, like muscle, did not change their risk of heart failure, despite still qualifying as a decrease in weight.
Should further research replicate these conclusions, it could indicate that weight loss that results in a breakdown of visceral fat, or fat around the abdominal cavity, from around those vital organs is integral to heart failure reduction in Type 2 diabetes.
Future research is also needed to learn if building or preserving muscle along with losing fat would be as effective, if not more so, at reducing the risk of heart failure. This could present new options for how to defeat the scourge of Type 2 diabetes.