How sex hormones resulting from obesity alter heart functionAccording to a panel of Belgium researchers, there is a high likelihood that the functioning of heart among healthy men can be raised artificially by introduction of estrogen levels. Estradiol is an estrogen that is majorly referred to as the female hormone. However, it is also true that the hormone is available in men but at a rather low level. Aromatase enzyme converts testosterone to Estradiol. This activity can also be increased significantly in the bodies of obese people by a reduction in testosterone and increased Estradiol.

A study to determine sex hormone changes

In his efforts to determine if obesity can alter the functioning of the heart function through changes in the sex hormones, a research team led by Drs Maarten De Smet from Ghent University in Belgium conducted the study on a group of 20 men in their good health. The men were aged between 20 and 40 years and the researchers used estrogen patch and aromatase inhibitor to have their hormone level altered artificially. This mimicked the high concentration of hormones present in obese persons- low testosterone and high Estradiol- vs high testosterone, low Estradiol. A cardiologist by the name Prof T De Backer assessed the function of the heart in the period of seven days after intervention of ultrasonographic. This images strain analysis that measures heart’s deformation between contracted and resting states.

According to the study, men who add sex hormone changes related to obesity resulted in altering heart function. However, the other contrasting group revealed no difference from what was expected. By altering the sex hormones artificially among the health men, the researchers aimed at showing that changing the profile of sex hormone, a scenario that happens in obese persons could results in changes to heart function. Clinical trials that are sufficiently powered can be used to show the vital role in which sex hormones play in changing the functioning of heart among obese men.

Nevertheless, Maarten De Smet from Ghent University undertaking his Masters studies noted that obesity was one of the major contributors to cardiovascular heart diseases. By providing men with an estrogen and aromatase inhibitor to the health men, this created a similar scenario of the situation experienced by obese men, after being isolated from other metabolic state related with obesity. For pumping of blood to take place in the entire body, the heart needs to be filled with blood first after which it contracts to push the blood out. The researchers observed that by increasing estrogen levels in the men and consequently reducing testosterone levels, there was a major deformation of heart chambers.

Shortcomings of the study

Considering that the factors which contributes to obesity and underlying biology is very complicated, this provided a serious challenge in the efforts of the researchers to test each of the aspects involved. In addition, as the study was conducted on a few numbers of men on a short term basis, it is important that additional investigations are done to observe long term effects of changes in sex hormone resulting from obesity.