Obesity may help once heart failure occurs

July 5, 2012 at 7:43 PM
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LOS ANGELES, July 5 (UPI) -- Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and heart failure, but once heart failure manifests, being overweight may be protective, U.S. researchers say.

First author Adrienne L. Clark of the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, at Los Angeles, said a slim waist and normal weight are usually associated with better health outcomes but the study -- published in the American Journal of Cardiology -- found in both men and women with advanced heart failure, obesity, as indicated by a high body mass index, and a higher waist circumference were factors that put them at significantly less risk for adverse outcomes.

"The study provides us with more insight about how both genders of heart failure patients may be impacted by the obesity paradox," senior author Dr. Tamara Horwich, an assistant professor of cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement. "Heart failure may prove to be one of the few health conditions where extra weight may prove to be protective."

The researchers analyzed data on advanced heart failure patients treated at UCLA Medical Center from 1983 to 2011, involving 2,718 patients who had their BMI measured at the beginning of heart failure treatment and 469 patients who had their waist circumference measured at the beginning of treatment.

A waist circumference of 40 inches or more was considered high for men. For women 37 inches or greater was considered high, Clark said.

At the two-year follow-up, researchers used statistical analysis and found a high waist circumference and high BMI among men were associated with event-free survival from adverse outcomes like death, the need for a heart transplant, or the need for ventricular assist device placement. Women with a higher BMI also had better outcomes.

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