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Heart Disease Health Center

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Obesity Increases Risk of Deadly Heart Attacks

Study Suggests Obesity-Heart Attack Link Is Independent of Other Risk Factors Such as Diabetes
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 14, 2011 -- Obesity is a risk factor for fatal heart attacks even for people who do not have the conditions normally associated with cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, a study shows.

According to researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, it appears that obesity in its own right is associated with an increased risk of fatal heart attacks.

Inflammation is apparently a strong factor in fatal cardiovascular disease, the researchers say, and obesity is now increasingly being recognized as an inflammatory condition.

“We already knew that being obese meant you had a higher chance of having a heart attack,” study researcher Jennifer Logue, MD, of the University of Glasgow, tells WebMD via email. “We also already knew that obese people were more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

She says it was thought that high cholesterol and blood pressure were the reasons obese people had more heart attacks, and that medications can treat those conditions.

But she says the study has shown “two news things: obese, middle-aged men have a 60% increased risk of dying from a heart attack than non-obese middle-aged men, even after we cancel out any of the effects of cholesterol, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular risk factors.”

This means, she says, that “obesity itself may be causing fatal heart attacks through a factor that we have not yet identified.”

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