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Muscle Minimizes Heart Disease Complications

A lean body composition has been linked with many health benefits. Now there’s more reason to pack on some extra muscle. Researchers recently discovered that patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) who had higher levels of muscle mass and lower levels of fat mass had lower rates of mortality than other CVD patients who did not share these characteristics.

Featured in The American Journal of Cardiology (2016; 117 [8], 1355–60), the study examined body composition and mortality in 6,451 CVD patients from 1999 to 2006. Subjects were separated into four groups: low muscle/low fat, low muscle/high fat, high muscle/low fat and high muscle/high fat. Researchers then evaluated connections between each of those categories and mortality.

Patients with the high-muscle/low-fat designation had the lowest CVD-related mortality risk among the four groups. Moreover, higher levels of muscle—regardless of fat mass—tended to offer protective benefits against mortality. It is important to consider, the authors explained, that individuals with more muscle mass could also have a higher body mass index, which might technically place them at greater mortality risk. For that reason, the researchers emphasized the use of alternative measures to determine risk potential.

“Rates of cardiovascular/total mortality were lower in higher quartiles of muscle mass, fat mass, and higher categories of BMI,” they stated. “This suggests the importance of body composition assessment in the prediction of cardiovascular and total mortality in patients with CVD.”

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