May 31, 2023

Why does abdominal fat matter? What can we do about it?

Why does abdominal fat matter? What can we do about it?

Visceral fat, also known as intra-abdominal fat, is the fat that surrounds the organs in the abdominal cavity, such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines. Unlike subcutaneous fat, which is located just beneath the skin, visceral fat is deeper and surrounds these vital organs. Here's why visceral fat poses a threat to cardiovascular health:

  1. Inflammatory Effects: Visceral fat is metabolically active and can release inflammatory substances, such as cytokines and adipokines, into the bloodstream. These substances can lead to a state of chronic low-grade inflammation in the body, which is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

  1. Insulin Resistance: Excess visceral fat is strongly linked to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body's cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. Insulin resistance can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  1. Dyslipidemia: Visceral fat accumulation is associated with an abnormal lipid profile characterized by high levels of triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), and increased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol). This pattern, known as dyslipidemia, contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

  1. Increased Free Fatty Acid Release: Visceral fat cells have a higher rate of releasing free fatty acids into the bloodstream compared to subcutaneous fat cells. Elevated levels of free fatty acids can lead to adverse metabolic effects, including insulin resistance, impaired glucose metabolism, and increased production of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) in the liver. These effects contribute to the development of cardiovascular risk factors.

Haemodynamic Changes: Excess visceral fat can affect the functioning of the heart and blood vessels. It can lead to increased production of certain hormones, such as angiotensinogen, which can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension) and promote vasoconstriction. Elevated blood pressure and changes in blood vessel function can strain the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It's important to note that reducing visceral fat through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight loss, can have significant benefits for cardiovascular health and overall well-being.

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a medication that can help with the reduction in visceral fat. It belongs to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 agonists). It is primarily prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes but has also shown promise in promoting weight loss and potentially reducing visceral fat.

GLP-1 agonists work by mimicking the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, which is naturally produced in the gut. These medications help regulate blood sugar levels by increasing insulin secretion, reducing glucagon release, slowing down gastric emptying, and promoting a feeling of fullness.

While the primary mechanism of action of Ozempic is related to blood sugar control, some studies have suggested that it may also have an impact on body weight and body composition, including visceral fat reduction.

One study published in Diabetes Care in 2018 evaluated the effects of semaglutide on body weight and metabolic parameters in individuals with obesity. The study found that participants who received semaglutide experienced greater weight loss and reductions in waist circumference (a measure of visceral fat) compared to those who received a placebo. These findings suggest that semaglutide may have a beneficial effect on visceral fat reduction.

Another study published in The Lancet in 2019, known as the Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity (STEP) trial, examined the effects of semaglutide on weight loss in individuals with obesity. The study reported significant weight loss in the semaglutide treatment group, along with improvements in various cardiometabolic risk factors.

Although these studies suggest that Ozempic may have the potential to reduce visceral fat, further research is necessary to establish a direct link between semaglutide use and visceral fat reduction. It is also important to note that individual responses to the medication may vary, and its effects on visceral fat reduction may be influenced by factors such as diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle.

Doctor Service will provide tailored advice and guidance regarding the use of Ozempic or any other medication and lifestyle changes for weight loss.

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