Midlife Obesity Increases Later Heart Disease Mortality

Study finds higher risk of hospitalization and death even in otherwise low-risk obese subjects

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity in midlife, even in the absence of other risk factors, increases the risk for hospitalization or death from coronary heart disease (CHD), cardiovascular disease or diabetes after age 65, according to a study published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lijing L. Yan, Ph.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues studied 17,643 men and women ages 31 to 64 who were free of CHD, diabetes or major electrocardiographic abnormalities at baseline (1967-1973). The researchers classified the participants as low risk (non-smokers with low cholesterol and normal blood pressure) or moderate risk (a combination of risk factors, including smoking, hypertension or elevated cholesterol).

In the low-risk group, the risk for CHD death was 43% higher for obese participants compared with those of normal weight. In the moderate-risk group, obese participants were twice as likely to die of CVD as normal-weight individuals. Obese individuals in the low-risk group were 4.2 times as likely to be hospitalized for CHD as their normal-weight peers and obese individuals had nearly twice the hospitalization risk of normal-weight patients in the moderate-risk group. The results were similar for cardiovascular disease, but stronger for diabetes.

"Convincing evidence from our findings and other studies provides strong support for population-wide, multifaceted, primary prevention starting at young age of all major risk factors, including overweight and obesity," the authors conclude.

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