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Weight Loss & Pulse

By Christie Morton ; Updated July 18, 2017

Your pulse is the rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each beat of the heart. This rhythmic contraction is affected by your weight and your weight loss efforts. Having too much weight can cause your heart to beat faster, while weight loss can slow it down to a healthy level. However, if you lose too much weigh too fast, your pulse may also be affected negatively.

Resting Heart Rate

High resting heart rates are associated with an increased risk of death. A study by J. Malcolm Arnold and colleagues published in May 2008 in “The Canadian Journal of Cardiology” found that people with heart rates at or above 78 beats per minute had a 39 percent higher risk of “a major vascular event,” 77 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 65 percent higher risk of death from any cause compared with people who had resting heart rates of 58 beats per minute or less. A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute, notes the American Heart Association.

Weight Loss Improves Resting Heart Rate

Weight loss improves resting heart rate and how the heart recovers after exercise. The “Journal of Cardiology” published a study by Nagashima and colleagues in July 2010 which involved a 3-month weight loss program consisting of a diet prescribed by a dietitian and 2 hours of group exercise per week. After three months, the participants had lower body weight, body mass index, and percent body fat as well as a smaller waist and hip circumference. Their heart rate recovery and resting heart rate were also improved.

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Reduced Risk of Death

Weight loss reduces death risk by lessening artery stiffness caused by extra weight. A study published in the April 2010 issue of “Obesity” by Rider et al. wanted to find a clinical way to gauge the increased mortality linked to obesity. The researchers discovered that obese study participants had a 14 percent increase in aortic pulse wave velocity, or PWV, a measure of the stiffness of the aorta. Aortic stiffness is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death. Participants who lost a significant amount of weight, about 50 percent of their total extra weight, improved their PWV by 14 percent, which in turn reversed their increased risk of death associated with aorta stiffness.

Dangers of Crash Diets

Losing too much weight too quickly can be dangerous, causing deadly interruptions in your pulse. In 1977 a very low calorie liquid diet was associated with 60 reported deaths according to an article published in the journal “Circulation” in December 1979. At least 9 of these deaths were caused by fatal ventricular arrhythmias. A ventricular arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rhythm. More recently, deaths associated with a low-calorie liquid diet called LighterLife have been reported in England. At least one death has been reported from a heart arrhythmia. John Garrow, a leading obesity expert quoted in an article in England’s “Daily Mail,” says that semi-starvation diets can cause a reduction of muscle tissue in organs, including the heart. This depletion of muscle can cause arrhythmias.

Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, says that losing weight is simply about using more calories than you consume. The MIT experts say the safest way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficiency of 500 calories per week. They recommend cutting 250 calories from your diet and burning 250 calories through moderate exercise.

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