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Fluctuating Weight Could Increase Heart Disease Risk

Yo-yo dieting may affect more than your waistline. Scientists already knew that fluctuating numbers on the scale pose a danger—in the form of increased cardiac risk—in people without heart disease; now, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it seems that even people with heart disease would do better to maintain a stable weight than to strive for big changes. The study looked at data from 9,509 people with coronary artery disease who participated in the Treating to New Targets trial. Researchers analyzed the participants' weights, taken at the beginning of the trial and during follow-up visits, to look for fluctuations. Then, they compared this weight data with the participants’ histories of coronary and cardiovascular events, as well as deaths. After adjusting for other risk factors, researchers found that, compared with participants with the lowest weight fluctuations (just under 2 pounds), participants with the highest weight fluctuations (around 8.6 pounds) had:

  • a 64% higher risk of a coronary event (including angina, coronary artery surgery, heart attack, or heart disease-related death);
  • an 85% higher risk of a cardiovascular event (including coronary events as well as peripheral vascular disease, stroke, or heart failure);
  • a 117% higher risk of heart attack;
  • a 136% higher risk of stroke; and
  • a 124% higher risk of death.

This study highlights the importance of maintaining your weight if you have coronary artery disease, even if you are overweight or obese. However, it is still important to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and prevent other serious health problems. If you have a hard time forming healthy habits, try to find exercises you enjoy doing and healthy foods you enjoy eating. You’ll be more likely to stick to your new routine if you’re doing things you like.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

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