A new study examines the possibility that obese people receive better care and outcomes when being treated for heart attack or other acute coronary syndrome (ACS). While many reports include obesity as a risk factor for coronary artery disease, no evidence has directly linked the two. Investigators from the University of California Davis Medical Center performed a data analysis of more than 80,000 patients with high-risk ACS; about 71% of these patients were either overweight or obese. When compared with patients of a normal weight, the obese patients were younger and exhibited other symptoms such as diabetes, hypertension, and higher lipid levels. Within the first 24 hours of presenting ACS symptoms, overweight and obese patients were more likely than normal-weight patients to receive recommended medications and to undergo invasive cardiac procedures. As a result, after adjusting for age and other factors, researchers determined that the overweight and mildly obese patients were 11% less likely to die or have another myocardial infarction than were the normal-weight patients. In fact, the underweight patients were 20% more likely to die than normal-weight patients; extremely obese patients already had increased mortality rates. Researchers concluded that more studies were needed to see how various hospitals treat people of different weights and how that treatment affects outcomes. The study appears in the July issue of American Heart Journal.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.