Body Fat, Heart Failure Association Declines With Age

In middle-aged and older Swedes, body mass index, waist circumference linked to heart failure events

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Overall and abdominal fat were linked to hospitalization or death due to heart failure in middle aged and older individuals, though the association lessened with age, according to research published online April 7 in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Emily Levitan, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 80,360 middle-aged to elderly Swedish men and women. Subjects were free from heart failure at baseline, and were followed for a median seven years.

The researchers report that body mass index, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and waist-height ratio were associated with heart failure mortality or hospitalization, with waist-hip ratio having the weakest association. Overall and abdominal adiposity appeared to be linked to heart failure events in men, the investigators found. For women and men, the association between adiposity and heart failure events seemed to diminish with age.

"In addition to the adverse effects of obesity on established cardiovascular risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and diabetes, obesity is linked to increased blood volume, increased cardiac work load, diastolic dysfunction, hypertrophy and dilation of the left ventricle, and fat deposits in the heart which may lead to heart failure. Increased aortic stiffness, another precursor of heart failure, has been consistently associated with obesity in adults, particularly those with high levels of abdominal adiposity," the authors write.

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