Obesity Without Metabolic Syndrome Still Increases Heart Disease Risk

Published Online: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
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Overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke regardless of whether they have metabolic syndrome, a new study reports.

The study, published online on November 11, 2013, in JAMA Internal Medicine, categorized 71,527 participants from the Copenhagen General Population Study according to body mass index (BMI) as normal weight, overweight, or obese according to metabolic syndrome status. The researchers of the study then followed the participants for an average of 3.6 years, recording heart attacks and ischemic heart disease events.

The results indicate that incidence of heart attack and strokes increased as BMI increased. Overweight and obese participants without metabolic syndrome were 1.26 times and 1.88 times more likely to have a heart attack than normal-weight participants without metabolic syndrome, respectively. Hazard ratios for patients with metabolic syndrome were 1.39 among normal weight, 1.70 among overweight, and 2.33 among obese patients. The results were similar but not as strong for ischemic heart disease events.

The authors of the study conclude that “Overweight and obesity are risk factors for [myocardial infarction] and [ischemic heart disease] regardless of the presence or absence of metabolic syndrome” and that “Metabolic syndrome is no more valuable than BMI in identifying individuals at risk.”

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