Losing Weight Doesn’t Reduce Heart Attack Deaths

The good news is that people in the intervention group lost more weight than those in the control group (8.6% vs 0.7% at one year, and 6% vs. 3.5% at study end). Furthermore, those in the intervention group saw greater improvements in glycated hemoglobin, fitness, and risk factors. The bad news is that after almost a decade, there was just no difference in the real outcome of interest. The number of deaths from cardiovascular causes was just no different.

They actually stopped the trial early, once a “futility analysis” showed it just wasn’t going to work, even if they waited a few more years.

More from Aaron Carroll. NEJM study.

Comments (14)

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  1. LMB says:

    Well, gaining weight would definitely increase heart attacks…

    • Nick says:

      Definitely. It is very interesting though that they have proven that the converse idea isn’t true (aka losing weight = decrease of heart attacks)

  2. Jeff says:

    Is this suggesting that cardiovascular disease is caused by genetic mutation?

    • Nigel says:

      I don’t see anything in the post that suggests that, but that could be an explanation, but I think it might be because of the permanent damage that obesity does to the body that can’t be reversed.

      • Miguel says:

        What type of damage can’t be reversed by losing the weight?

        • Nigel says:

          Well by constantly putting strain on your heart, it could (theoretically) harm your heart to such an extent that it was irreversible, which could be a cause for the cardiovascular disease/failure.

    • Geneva Benza says:

      I wouldn’t say that Jeff, it doesn’t look like they had that in there as a factor, not enough data to draw any conclusions on that.

  3. Howe says:

    How can you decrease risk factors for heart disease and then say there was no difference in getting the disease?

    • Calvin says:

      Yeah, that was exactly my question. I would be curious to know the methodology of the study, because there has to be something we are missing.

    • Geneva Benza says:

      We tend to draw conclusions based on our belief systems, in this case the conclusions did not support that belief system. It also did not support the conclusions of LMP, and Nick. It is possible that cardiovascular fitness is more important than weight. I also noticed that the weight loss eroded over the next year, which is very typical on dieting in general. Also the very important variable that almost nobody talks about is optimism

  4. Bubba says:

    Oh man!

    What you’re telling me is that my stopping the boozing, giving up cigars and cutting back on the comfort food won’t actually make me live longer; it will just feel longer!

  5. Randall says:

    Gaining weight comes with all kinds of problems and losing weight is always a good idea. This study really just does not help or make any sense!

  6. Dr. Mike says:

    Don’t forget the possible important fact that THEY ALL HAD DIABETES.