A new study conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA shows that patients with cardiovascular disease who also have high muscle mass and low body fat have a lower risk of mortality that patients with other body mass combinations.
The take away from this study is that to prolong lives, and especially to reduce or avoid cardiovascular disease, seniors should work on maintaining muscle mass as they get older, and not focus so heavily on weight loss.
The study concluded that having a high level of muscle mass helps to reduce risk of death, and it does not matter how much body fat is present.
Researchers found in previous studies that examined the relationship between mortality and body composition that there was a possible protective effect of muscle mass on both metabolism and mortality in healthy people. The new research used more sophisticated methods of measuring muscle mass and body fat, called dual X-ray absorptiometry.
Patients fell into one of four categories:
1. Low muscle/low fat mass
2. Low muscle/high fat mass
3. High muscle/low fat mass
4. High muscle/high fat mass
The group with the best outcomes was that with high muscle mass and low fat mass, with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and total mortality. These findings help explain the “obesity paradox” which states that those with a higher BMI have lower mortality levels. The conclusion the researchers make is that BMI is not a good predictor of mortality. It is more useful to examine overall body composition. Having a little fat on those old bones might indeed be not such a bad thing.