Obesity, Overweight Causes Early Onset Cardiovascular Disease

Patients with obesity developed heart disease 4.3 years earlier.

Patients with obesity or who are overweight experience myriad chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions suggests that patients who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease earlier than patients of normal weight.

These findings show even more evidence that maintaining a healthy weight is important for preventing costly chronic diseases.

Previous studies have hinted that patients with a higher body mass index (BMI) may live longer than those with normal BMI. The current study aimed to explore the findings by analyzing pooled data from 20 large community-based cardiovascular disease groups included in the Lifetime Risk Pooling Project.

“We wanted to focus on both the risk of cardiovascular events and implications in terms of healthy longevity — living without cardiovascular disease – by weight status,” said researcher Sadiya Khan, MD, MSc.

Included in the study were 72,490 middle-aged patients who were typically healthy and cardiovascular disease-free at baseline. The investigators focused on cardiovascular events, such as coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and cardiovascular disease.

The authors found that patients with obesity or overweight had similar or slightly shorter lifespans, compared with patients with normal BMIs, regardless of cardiovascular disease, according to the study.

Compared with healthy weight individuals, those with high BMI were observed to have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The authors found that middle-aged women who were overweight were 32% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared with normal weight counterparts, according to the study.

Patients with normal weight were observed to live more years without cardiovascular disease, while patients with high BMI lived more years with the condition.

Additionally, those with high BMI developed cardiovascular disease earlier than those with normal BMI. The researchers found that middle-aged women who were overweight developed cardiovascular disease 1.8 years earlier than those with normal weight, and patients with obesity developed the condition 4.3 years earlier, according to the study.

Other factors associated with overweight and obesity, such as atrial fibrillation or liver disease, were not able to be accounted for, but the authors indicated that those factors are important when studying the health of the population.

Another limitation was the use of BMI that may not account for abdominal adiposity, which is known to cause adverse health events. Additional studies should use other measures of overweight and obesity, including waist circumference and abdominal fat, according to the study.

“Our findings suggest that healthcare providers need to continue to be aware of the increased risk of earlier cardiovascular disease faced by overweight and obese people,” Dr Khan concluded. “Healthcare providers should emphasize the importance of maintaining healthy weight throughout their lives to live longer, healthier lives.”