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People who restrict calories have 'younger' hearts

The hearts of people who follow a low-calorie, yet nutritionally balanced, diet resemble those of younger people when examined by sophisticated ultrasound function tests, and they tend to have more desirable levels of some markers of inflammation and fibrosis, according to a new study in the Jan. 17, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Eating less, if it is a high-quality diet, will improve your health, delay aging, and increase your chance of living a long, healthy and happy life," said Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri and the Italian National Institute of Health in Rome, Italy. "This is the first paper to show that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that ameliorate the age-associated decline in diastolic function in humans. In other words, this is the first report ever to show that calorie restriction with optimal nutrition may delay primary aging in human beings."

A number of studies have shown that animals can live longer when they eat fewer calories, but human study has been difficult. The caloric restriction model requires a strict diet regimen, both to keep the total number of calories low and to insure that participants consume the right balance of nutrients.

Rather than try to randomize volunteers to different diets and then hope that they will stick to them for years, the researchers, including first author Timothy E. Meyer, Ph.D., compared 25 people who already had been following caloric restriction for an average of six years (consuming about 1,400 to 2,000 calories per day) with 25 similar control subjects who were eating typical Western diets (about 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day).

Hearts tend to stiffen and pump less effectively as people get older, but ultrasound examinations showed that the hearts of the people on caloric restriction appeared mor
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
301-581-3476
American College of Cardiology
13-Jan-2006


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