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Heart lipid content decreases with regular exercise

J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010: Advance online publication

Regular exercise can markedly lower cardiac lipid content in overweight individuals as well as improving ejection fraction, a study suggests.

The decreased lipid content in the heart is opposite to the increased lipid content seen in skeletal muscle seen after exercise training, the researchers note.

They believe that "cardiac lipid content could be used as a risk marker for cardiac deterioration."

Vera Schrauwen-Hinderling (Maastricht University Medical Center, The Netherlands) and co-workers studied cardiac changes after a physical training intervention in 14 overweight individuals, with a mean age of 58.4 years.

Using 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and CINE-magnetic resonance imaging, they assessed cardiac lipid content and cardiac function before and after a progressive, 12-week training program.

The exercise program included three training sessions a week comprising endurance and strength training, with a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise.
Maximal whole-body oxygen uptake significantly increased from a mean of 2559 ml/min to 2702 ml/min after training.

At the same time, plasma glucose concentrations decreased from 6.3 to 5.7 mmol/l, although plasma triacylglycerols and fatty acids showed no significant changes.
Body weight only showed a nonsignificant trend towards decreasing, as did fat percentage.
However, left ventricular ejection fraction improved significantly from 52.2% to 54.2% and the cardiac lipid content in the septum decreased significantly from 0.99% to 0.54% after training.

"Our results show that even a relatively short (3 months) training intervention, without major bodyweight loss, is already able to markedly lower cardiac lipid content," the researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

They add: "These results underscore the power of physical activity in improving health, and the present findings should encourage people that may be disappointed by the lack of cosmetic changes in physical activity."

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MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2010