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    4 Factors That Increase Odds of Heart Failure

    Study Shows Risk Factors Like Excess Weight and Diabetes Can Increase Size of Heart Ventricle
    By
    WebMD Health News

    June 9, 2009 -- Smoking, high blood pressure, excess weight, and diabetes are major risk factors for increasing the size of the heart's left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) a new study shows. An increase in the size and thickness, or "mass," of the left ventricle is a worrisome condition that can lead to heart failure.

    Boston University researchers say that in a study of more than 4,200 people, those four risk factors were strongly correlated with greater left ventricle mass over the short term (four years), as well as over the long term (16 years).

    The study is published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

    "Left ventricular mass has been associated in multiple studies with risk of cardiovascular disease, including risk of developing heart failure," says Ramachandran S. Vasan, MD, senior investigator of the study and chief of the section of preventive medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "These factors can be directly targeted for prevention and lowering these risk factors therefore could potentially lower the burden of heart failure."

    The scientists looked at the effect of risk factors on left ventricular mass by analyzing data from the Framingham Offspring Study, which encompasses the children and spouses of children of the original Framingham Heart Study participants.

    The original Framingham Heart Study is a landmark observational data-gathering and analysis effort that started in 1948. It centered on a group of residents from Framingham, Mass., in whom heart disease risk factors and outcomes were tracked over time.

    Measuring Heart Risk

    For the present analysis, data were evaluated from heart ultrasound examinations obtained from 2,605 offspring in the 1970s and checkups through the late 1990s. Fifty-three percent of study participants were women; the average age was 45.

    Participants were divided into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk-factor groups. The researchers say high blood pressure, excess weight, smoking, and diabetes strongly correlated with greater left ventricular mass, as did age and gender.

    "People with fewer risk factors had almost no increase in [left ventricular] mass with age," Vasan says in a news release. "People who had more risk factors had a steeper increase in [left ventricular] mass with age."

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