Arterial stiffness (biological name arteriosclerosis) is the leading cause of early death in the developed world. It causes heart attacks and strokes. A new study carried out by Timothy Hughes and Andrew Althouse, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, has shown that individuals who both lower their bodyweight and reduce insulin experience a decline in arterial stiffness, i.e. their arteries become healthier. The research was published in the November 2012 edition of Cardiovascular Diabetology.
When either obesity or insulin resistance is combined with arterial stiffness the risk of developing hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular conditions is increased. While it was already known that weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity reduce arterial stiffness it was not known how they interacted with each other, or what their combined effect is. The new research studied this relationship.
During the study 339 people between the age of 20 and 45 years were examined. Each had a BMI of between 25 and 39.9, all had normal blood pressure and none were diabetic. They all followed a 6 month plan to lose weight and reduce insulin levels. The studied showed that individuals who both lost weight and improved their insulin levels saw the greatest improvements in their baPWV readings (their brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity).
The study proved that young adults with excess weight who both lower their insulin levels and lose weight see the biggest health improvements resulting from a reduction in vascular stiffness.
Once again health research has shown that there are indeed some vital health benefits of losing weight and also managing insulin levels. A combination of a low GI diet and regular exercise is an effective way to reduce weight and manage insulin levels. Exercise has also been shown to reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes, another major risk factor for the development of vascular disease.
References and further reading
- “Effects of weight loss and insulin reduction on arterial stiffness in the SAVE trial” by Timothy M Hughes, Andrew D Althouse et al. Cardiovascular Diabetology 2012, 11:114 doi:10.1186/1475-2840-11-114. Full text available.
- MotleyHealth Low GI Diet Plan (eBook) – our guide to managing blood sugar and insulin levels.
- How To Lose Weight – Our guide on how to lose weight effectively with diet and exercise.