The University of Alberta Hospital foundation is donating money to fund research at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute to study the impact of weight loss on heart failure.

The research will take place at the Institute over the next three years, and will focus on the effects of weight loss in cardiac patients.

Dr. Arya Sharma, chair of the obesity research at the University of Alberta, says the goal it to one day improve treatment for patients with heart disease. 

Researchers will work to answer whether structural changes in heart failure can be reversed through voluntary weight loss.

Losing weight has already had dramatic effects on Randy Wurtz.

The 60-year-old says there was a point in his life when he could barely climb the stairs. But under a doctor's supervision,Wurtz stopped eating solid food, began consuming a liquid diet drink, and lost 170 pounds.

"I had one heart attack already and my doctor told me I was due for another one and that could be the one to take me and I didn't want to go yet," Wurtz said. "Today I have nothing. I don't take any pills for anything other than a multi-vitamin."

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Canada. Researchers say certain factors, like obesity, are linked with the development of cardiovascular disease and the development of heart failure.

And even though a obesity is at epidemic proportions, researchers say no single study has been done to calculate the effect significant weight loss would have on extremely heavy people with heart failure.

"In fact there's only one paper that has shown that when patients who have had bariatric surgery lose a lot of weight, their heart function gets better, now we think we can do this without surgery," said Sharma.

The hospital foundation is donating $250,000 to help fund the research.

With files from Susan Amerongen