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Obesity Over Time May Cause Heart Damage

Posted: February 21, 2018

heart damage, silent heart damage, obesity risk, obese, The number of years you spend overweight or obese could lead to heart damage.

It doesn’t matter if your blood pressure is within a normal range or if you don’t have type 2 diabetes or kidney disease. Carrying excess weight for a long period of time appears to put people at risk for heart damage.

How much risk? Apparently, being obese for 10 years raises your risk 1.25 times for heart damage.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins say it’s important to maintain a healthy weight across your lifetime. Their findings suggest that a healthy weight keeps the heart healthy and minimizes damage as you age.

The analysis, summarized in the journal Clinical Chemistry, has serious implications for many Americans who have been obese for many years. For parents, it’s a call to help their children overcome obesity so they don’t have heart damage by the time they reach adulthood.

More than two-thirds of adults nationwide are overweight or obese, according to recent health statistics. The most effective weight-loss strategy for many people who have obesity is weight-loss surgery. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery procedures help people lose weight and keep it off in the long term.

Here are three important considerations from the analysis:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight across your lifespan is important for preventing heart damage.
  • People who spend more years obese are more likely to have high troponin levels, which indicate heart damage.
  • Long-term weight control is crucial to reduce your heart disease risk.

In an analysis of clinical data collected on more than 9,000 people, Johns Hopkins researchers found that people who spend years being overweight are more likely to test positive for a distinct risk factor. They are more likely to test positive for a chemical marker of “silent” heart damage called troponin.

“We’re finding that people’s weight from age 25 onwards is linked to the risk of more or less heart damage, as measured by levels of the protein troponin, later in life, which underscores the likely importance of long-term weight control for reducing heart disease risk,” said Chiadi Ndumele, M.D., M.H.S., the Robert E. Meyerhoff Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. “What our findings suggest is that even in the absence of such heart disease risk factors as high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease, the number of years spent obese or overweight contributes to the higher likelihood of heart damage.”

Although there is some evidence that losing weight even after decades of obesity or being overweight may help reduce troponin levels, it’s unclear how much the heart can heal.

“It’s challenging to effectively communicate future risk to young people who seem perfectly healthy and at the prime of their lives,” says Ndumele. “A measurement like excess BMI-years could be developed and tested as a way of communicating risk to young and middle age people to reduce their long-term risk of cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy weight.”

Source: Johns Hopkins news release

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