Doctors warn that fat can kill even if person is healthy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LONDON - A study has found that obese people who are healthy are still twice as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.

A research team from Glasgow University discovered that a person’s weight and levels of fat can directly increase the risk of a fatal heart attack by as much as 75 percent, even if the person is otherwise healthy.

It is a known fact that obese people are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, all contributory factors to heart conditions.

“The message coming from this is that obesity itself is not a benign condition,” the Scotsman quoted Dr Jennifer Logue, who led the research, as saying.

The research team tracked the health of more than 6,000 middle-aged men with high cholesterol, but no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, for around 15 years.

After excluding men who had cardiovascular problems or died within two years of the start of monitoring, the team recorded 214 deaths and 1,027 non-fatal heart attacks or strokes occurred during the whole study period.

The risk of a heart attack was then compared across categories of increasing body mass index (BMI), using two different approaches.

One simply corrected for any differences in the age or smoking status of the men, while the second corrected for cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, deprivation and any medications the men were taking.

The results showed that the higher a man’s weight, the higher was his likelihood of having other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

There was no increased risk of a non-fatal heart attack with increasing BMI; however, the risk of death was significantly higher in men who were obese.

The researchers found that by correcting for age and smoking, the risk of a fatal heart attack was 75 percent higher.

Inflammation is a strong factor in fatal cardiovascular disease, and obesity is increasingly being recognised as an inflammatory state, which may partly explain how obesity is linked to heart disease, reported the team.

“We are looking at what is there that is different about a heart attack and a fatal heart attack,” Dr Logue said.

“Are they completely different processes or is there something in people who are obese in this case that means that they are more likely to die when they have a heart attack?

“You can speculate as to what that reason is: is it some kind of inflammatory chemical that makes their blood stickier or whether their hearts are different?

“We know their hearts are under stress - they have a lot more body to pump round. Perhaps they are likely to go into funny rhythms when they don’t have as much blood coming to them as during a heart attack.

“It might also be that there is some chemical released by the fat cells which has not been identified yet that is doing this,” she added.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said the research carried an important message.

“Where this paper scores is because they did actually look carefully and strip out all the other confounders and they still got the answer that obesity is of itself a killer,” Fry said.

Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said that it is a known fact that being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease.

“But this study now strengthens the argument that obesity increases the risk of dying from a heart attack, irrespective of other risk factors,” she added. (ANI)

will not be displayed