An article published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals the link between obesity and heart disease and points out some important points about heart health.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Department of Medicine and Harvard Medical School, is the first to analyze data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is administered to about 40 million Americans every year.
The NHANES data provides information on obesity and health status from the first 24 hours of the survey, from the week prior to the survey to the last 24 hours.
The researchers found that, among people who were obese and overweight, a third of those who were not overweight had a heart condition.
This third group had a risk of heart disease for each additional 1 percentage point of body weight, the researchers reported.
The group with a higher risk of a heart disease were also more likely to have hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
“The data indicates that these people are more likely than the general population to have these heart conditions,” said study lead author and study co-author Dr. Jeffrey A. Tietze, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UCSF.
“So this is really important, because a large percentage of the population is overweight and has elevated risks of heart diseases.”
The authors also found that heart disease in obese people was associated with a larger number of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles (the so-called “bad cholesterol”), the particles that are typically found in high blood pressure and the development of atherosclerosis.
Heart disease is a major risk factor for heart failure and death.
This research has some important implications for patients who are obese and have elevated cholesterol levels, and for people who are overweight and at risk of developing heart disease.
“Obesity and heart health are intertwined,” said Dr. Tienze.
“If we don’t treat obesity and metabolic syndrome together, we’re not going to treat obesity in a healthy way.”
To read more about the study, including links to additional studies, visit the journal.
To read the original article, visit our blog, Inside the Heart.
This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service covering health care issues.
Kaiser Health news services provide health and science news and commentary to health care professionals across the country, including health policy analysts, reporters and researchers.