Please have a look at the image below.

Image in which these medical terms are used

What does the underlined words

  • resolved / resolution
  • improved

mean in this image?

And, what is the difference between the meanings of "improved" and "reduced"?

In my native language, when a disease is said to be "improved", we understand that it went worse. Is "improved" used in an opposing meaning in English?

  • I think you misunderstand the meaning of the word "improved". Unless used facetiously, it always means "better, more desirable" from the speaker's point of view. Clearly whatever native word you have in mind that you think means "improved" is not the right one. Jun 17, 2012 at 16:46

3 Answers 3


According to Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 30th ed, resolve is defined as: "to restore to the normal state after some pathologic process."

So in this illustration, resolved means that the pathologic process has been stopped, and the normal state has returned.

Improved means that the pathologic process is no longer progressing and the condition has moved more toward the normal state, but is not there yet (or may never get there).

Reduction is used in its usual sense here: the amount by which something is lessened. In the illustration, it is used for a lessening of a risk (of cardiovascular disease) and of a rate (of mortality).

One thing that is not clear, based on the information provided in your question, is what the percentages are actually percentages of, and why some of them list ranges. (Perhaps the range is because the illustrator is citing data from multiple studies). I would guess that most of the conditions listed as resolved or improved are a percentage of the people who had the condition, who then lost fat and no longer have the condition or the condition is improved. For example, losing fat resolved the obstructive sleep apnea in 74% to 98% of people who had sleep apnea before losing fat. (The flip side is that losing fat did not resolve the apnea in 2% to 26% of people.)


In OP's context, resolved means that particular medical condition was no longer a problem.

If the condition became less of a problem (but wasn't "cured") it would have improved.

Some of the "medical conditions" (such as "risk of cardiovascular disease") are better described in terms of a percentage reduction in likelihood of developing the disease.

  • Resolution has a slightly different meaning in a medical context - it does not mean resolved as in fixed/completed, it means reduction of symptoms (usually in reference to reduced swelling/inflammation).
    – Wolf5370
    Jun 17, 2012 at 16:49
  • @Wolf5370: I'm not a doctor, so if that's a specialised jargon use, I wouldn't know it. What kind of "symptoms" could be resolved for the first item on OP's chart? How can a migraine sufferer's problem be "resolved" if he still gets migraines? Jun 17, 2012 at 16:59
  • @ FumbleFingers This is the point - it is not resolved in the context of being cured, but in medical parlance it is saying that symptoms are eased by a given degree - so 57% resolved would mean that the degree of the migraines (either by frequency or intenseness or both) is reduced by more than half.
    – Wolf5370
    Jun 17, 2012 at 17:05
  • 1
    @Wolf5370: Are you a doctor? That seems an unlikely interpretation to me. Certainly on OP's chart I read "57% resolved" as meaning 57% of people who had this condition before no longer suffer from it after losing weight. You seem to be suggesting they all still have the problem, but it's 57% less troublesome/noticeable/whatever now they are thinner. Jun 17, 2012 at 17:14
  • 1
    @Wolf5370: I don't know - maybe 83% of subjects who were previously taking medication for diabetes were able to control the condition by diet alone. Which from the doctor's point of view means they're effectively "cured". Maybe the chart is sloppy, and they meant the chance of developing diabetes was 83% less after losing weight. Jun 17, 2012 at 17:34

Resolution: the subsidence of a pathological state (as inflammation) . That is, reduction in the symptom such as reduction in swelling/inflammation.

Improved: To have been made better that it was.

Improved means to make better that it was before, so when we use this with disease we mean health is improved not disease becomes worse. Improved is always positive.

  • I think you misinterpret M-W's "subsidence". They clearly mean fixed, cured. You reading, made a little bit better, but not fully or permanently fixed is unjustified, and I do not think M-W's entry is intended to convey that. A resolved condition is the same as a resolved problem - it's been fully dealt with. Jun 17, 2012 at 17:10

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