A low-calorie diet eliminates insulin dependence and leads to improved heart function in obese patients with type 2 diabetes, a new study has claimed.
Diabetes is a chronic illness in which there are high levels of glucose in the blood, and type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, representing 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed cases among adults.
“Lifestyle interventions may have more powerful beneficial cardiac effects than medication in these patients,” Sebastiaan Hammer, the lead author, said.
“It is striking to see how a relatively simple intervention of a very low calorie diet effectively cures type 2 diabetes mellitus. Moreover, these effects are long term, illustrating the potential of this method,” he said.
Pericardial fat is a visceral fat compartment around the heart that can be detrimental to cardiac function, especially in people with metabolic disease.
Hammer and his colleagues set out to determine the long-term effects of initial weight loss induced by caloric restriction on pericardial fat and cardiac function in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
Using cardiac MRI, the researchers analysed cardiac function and pericardial fat in 15 patients, including seven men and eight women, with type 2 diabetes before and after four months of a diet consisting of 500 calories daily.
Changes in the body mass index (BMI) were also measured for the study.
The results showed that caloric restriction resulted in a decrease in BMI from 35.3 to 27.5 over four months. Pericardial fat decreased from 39 milliliters (ml) to 31 ml, and E/A ratio, a measure of diastolic heart function, improved from 0.96 to 1.2.
After an additional 14 months of follow-up on a regular diet, BMI increased to 31.7, but pericardial fat only increased slightly to 32 ml. E/A ratio after follow-up was 1.06.
“Our results show that 16 weeks of caloric restriction improved heart function in these patients.
“More importantly, despite regain of weight, these beneficial cardiovascular effects were persistent over the long term,” he said.
The study has been recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).