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Better body, better heart.

Better body, better heart

Considerable research links obesity with heart disease. Now scientists report that either of two weight-loss schemes -- diet and exercise -- can independently boost blood levels of high-density lipoprotein [HDL], the "good" cholesterol associated with lower risk of heart attacks. "Weight loss by diet or by exercise can improve one's lipid risk factors for heart disease," says Richard B. Terry of Stanford University.

A group of 155 men who were 20 to 60 percent over ideal body weight participated in the study, described by Terry, Peter D. Wood and their colleagues in the Nov. 3 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. The men were separated into three groups: dieters, exercisers and controls. Dieters were put on individualized plans to reduce body fat by one-third over a nine-month period. Exercisers got a tailor-made fitness regimens, starting off slowly with warm-ups and gradually working up to 40- or 50-minute jogs. Controls followed their usual diet and exercise patterns during the one-year study.

Blood samples taken at seven months and one year showed a significant increase in plasma concentrations of HDL cholesterol in diet and exercise groups compared with controls. High levels of HDL cholesterol are regarded as beneficial because HDL acts as a scavenger, picking up fat deposits that can build up on vessel walls. Both diet and exercise groups shwoed comparable improvement in their "risk ratio," a clinical measure that predicts heart trouble.

The researchers believe their results may encourage doctors to prescribe moderate exercise, as well as dietary changes, for patients at risk of coronary heart disease. At the same time, Terry sounds a note of caution: To avoid injury, overweight patients should ask for a gradual fitness program.
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Title Annotation:diet and exercise can improve blood levels of high-density lipoprotein
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 5, 1988
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