Health Watch — Obesity Research: Fat in the Heart

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about research into obesity, and health conditions related to it. One possible complication of obesity is diabetes, and researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a new way to detect diabetes risk before symptoms of heart disease or diabetes appear.

They do this by using magnetic resonance imaging to detect fat buildup in the heart. Fat begins to build up in the hearts of diabetes patients, and researchers needed to know if it happened before symptoms developed. Dr. Lidia Szczepaniak, a UT Southwestern cardiologist, says this was difficult to determine because the beating heart and motion of breathing mean the MRI image has to be frozen in order for fat buildup to be detected. Special computer software was needed to do this. With this technique, there may be a new, non-invasive way to predict diabetes and heart disease.



September 2007

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