Obesity is Separate Risk factor for Death – Weight
Control and Diet Very Important
January 11th 2006
BMI and Heart
According to a new study, excess weight is an independent risk factor by
itself for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Cholesterol and high
blood pressure have been known risk factors for decades, but even people
with normal levels are at risk if they are overweight.
Research done at the Northwestern University tracked 17,643 patients for
over three decades and found that those overweight had substantially
increased risk of dying of heart disease later in life. This includes
the overweight people that began the study with normal blood pressure
and cholesterol levels.
Middle ages people need to watch their weight, not just their
cholesterol and blood pressure. Last year a US government study said
that a little excess weight is OK, but being overweight is not.
The participants were middle age men and women between the ages of 31
and 64. They were divided into five groups for heart disease risk
ranging form low to high and were followed for an average of 32 years.
The low risk group did not smoke and had normal blood pressure and
cholesterol. The moderate group members did not smoke either but may
have had a slightly elevated blood pressure or cholesterol. Intermediate
group participants had one of the risk factors for heart disease
including current smoking, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. The
elevated risk group had two of the risk factors and the highest risk
group had all three risk factors.
There were 1,187 participants that had normal blood pressure and
cholesterol levels. This is defined as a blood pressure of 120 over 80
or lower, and cholesterol under 200. Of this group 494 were overweight
or obese. The researchers also logged the Body Mass Index (BMI). Those
with a BMI of 25 to 29 were overweight and 30 and above were considered
The researchers were interested in how many eventually got heart
diseases. They tracked both deaths from cardiovascular disease and
diabetes and the hospitalizations for those diseases after the age of
Of the participants 1,594 died of heart disease. Obese and grossly
overweight participants were 43% more likely to die of heart attack than
those that had normal weight. Of the group that died of heart disease,
31 of them started out with normal blood pressure and cholesterol.
The obese individuals in the moderate group had a 2.1 times greater risk
of death due to heart disease than non-obese individuals. They also
found that obese people in the low risk group had a 4.2 times greater
risk of hospitalization for heart disease.
Lijing Yan was the study author which has been published in today’s
journal of the American Medical Association. She is a researcher at
both the Northwestern University in Chicago and the Peking University.
She concedes that some participants may have developed high blood
pressure and cholesterol on the study, but said researchers increasingly
believe that just being too fat causes other cardiovascular problems.
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Books on Heart Disease
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