Physical Exercise Can Reduce Adipose Tissue In The Heart - GO HEALTH TOWN

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Physical Exercise Can Reduce Adipose Tissue In The Heart


Physical Exercise Can Reduce Adipose Tissue In The Heart


Strength training and endurance training can reduce the amount of adipose tissue in the heart of obese. It shows a clinical randomized intervention study at Rigshospitalet. This is new knowledge that may prove important in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Elevated levels of epicardial and pericardial adipose tissue have been shown to be a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease in scientific studies. However, knowledge about why it is dangerous to have too much heart fat and how to reduce it is still limited.

A Danish research project at Rigshospitalet gives us new knowledge about heart fat. Here, researchers have investigated whether endurance and strength training can play a role in reducing the amount of fat in and around the heart for abdominally obese and inactive people. The results of the clinical randomized intervention study have just been published in the international scientific journal JAMA Cardiology.

Physical Exercise Can Reduce Adipose Tissue In The Heart


Physical Exercise Reduces Heart Fat


One of the main conclusions of the study is that it is possible to reduce the amount of heart fat by performing physical exercise in the form of strength and endurance training. For a doctor and PhD student Regitse Højgaard Christensen, who is one of the researchers behind the study, this is a significant finding.

Heart fat is a relatively new area of   research, and there are few studies that have looked at how to reduce it. Our study is interesting because it shows that by physical exercise it is possible to reduce the amount of fat in the heart. While this may not be so surprising, it is something we have not previously had clinical evidence for, explains Regitse Højgaard Christensen.

The study is based on 39 healthy, obese and physically inactive participants who, randomized into three groups, completed different types of physical training over 12 weeks. 

  • Group 1: performed 45 minutes of aerobic endurance training three times a week.
  • Group 2: strengthened 45 minutes three times a week.
  • Group 3: served as a control group and did not exercise. In addition to training, participants maintained their normal lifestyle for all 12 weeks. 

Several Types Of Training Work


Physical Exercise Can Reduce Adipose Tissue In The Heart

The experiment showed that in the participants who endured endurance training, the inner fat layer was reduced by 32%, compared to those who did not exercise. In those who were strength trained, the reduction of 24% was compared with the control group. Compared to reducing the outer fat layer of the heart, researchers found only a 31% reduction in strength training compared to those who did not exercise. Endurance training proved in the trial not to have a significant effect.

For Regitse Højgaard Christensen, it is especially interesting that both strength and endurance training appear to have an effect.

It is uplifting to see that different types of exercise can reduce heart fat. This means that people with specific exercise preferences, or who for physical reasons can only perform certain types of exercise, can still reduce heart fat and thus probably reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, she explains.

Maybe Possible To Reduce Heart Fat Even More


During the entire training period, participants maintained their normal lifestyle including their diets. The effect on the adipose tissue in and around the heart is therefore probably due to unchanged diets. However, the other study has shown that changes in the diet can also reduce the innermost fat layer around the heart. It gives reason to assume that it may be possible to reduce the amount of heart fat even more.

- One can imagine that endurance training in combination with changing diets will have an even greater effect on the amount of adipose tissue, explains Regitse Højgaard Christensen.

Combined training is part of international guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, according to Regitse Højgaard Christensen, it will also be interesting in future studies to investigate what effect on the amount of heart fat can be obtained by performing both strength and endurance training.

Confirmation That Physical Exercise Benefits


It is scientifically well established that physical exercise is beneficial in both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the study does not give reason to change the recommendations regarding physical training.

We all know that exercise is a good thing and that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other things by reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. With our study, we have now identified a new mechanism, namely the reduction of heart fat, through which exercise helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, says Regitse Højgaard Christensen.

However, more research into heart fat is needed before we can fully understand what role adipose tissue plays for our health.

We especially need more basic research to understand the role of the various types of heart fat, and to establish normal values ​​for fat around the heart, so that we can better tell when we have too much. Finally, more research will be needed to understand the biological mechanism of how we reduce heart fat, concludes Regitse Højgaard Christensen.

Study Design


Over 12 weeks, 39 participants were randomized to complete three different types of physical training:

  • Group 1: supervised aerobic endurance training 3 times a week for 45 minutes
  • Group 2: supervised strength training 3 times a week for 45 minutes
  • Group 3: no training.
Prior to the trial, participants were measured on a number of parameters including, weight, height, BMI, solid blood sugar and the amount of fat in their heart using MRI scans.

After the 12-week intervention, the participant was again measured on the corresponding parameters, including MRI scans to measure changes in the amount of epicardial fat and pericardial fat.

Throughout the trial, participants were encouraged to maintain their normal lifestyle and asked once a month to report their dietary intake over 4 days.



Attempt Participants


Participants in the study were healthy persons over 18 years of age
  • Abdominal overweight (waist / height ratio ≥0.5 and / or waist dimensions ≥88 cm for women and ≥102 cm for men
  • Physically inactive


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