08/01/2002 - News

Link between excess weight and heart failure

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Excess body weight is a powerful risk factor for developing heart failure, according to the latest from the Framingham Heart Study.

While coronary heart disease rates are going down, heart failure continues to increase - mainly because of the aging of the population. In heart failure, the heart fails to pump blood efficiently around the body.

Previous research has suggested that severe obesity - having a body mass index (BMI) over 40 - is linked with an increased risk of heart failure. But the risk posed by lesser degrees of overweight has been less obvious. Researchers for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in the US, now present a new report from the famous Framingham Heart Study, the basis for most of what we know about risk factors and heart disease.

Following over 5,000 participants, they found that each unit of increase in BMI was linked to a five per cent increase in heart failure risk - independent of any other risk factors. This includes those who are merely considered overweight, not just the obese. With well over half of all adult Americans being overweight or obese, this means that excess weight could lead to significant health problems in the future.


New England Journal of Medicine 1st August 2002

Created on: 08/01/2002
Reviewed on: 08/01/2002

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