Being overweight, obese could spell heart disease at a younger age

Being overweight or obese could increase an individual’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease at a younger age compared to those who maintain more healthy weights, according to new research.

The research was presented March 9 at the American Heart Association (AHA)’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, according to an AHA press release.

The study examined data from the Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, which includes 20 large cardiovascular disease groups in the U.S. It has more than 72,000 patients, but the physicians focused on only middle-aged patients.

Results showed that overweight and obese people had slightly shorter or similar lifespans than those with healthier body weights, regardless of whether they had heart disease. However, compared to people with healthier body mass indexes (BMI), overweight and obese people had increased lifetime risks of developing the disease.

One example: overweight middle-aged women were 32 percent more likely to develop heart disease during their lifetime compared to those with lower weights.

Additionally, overweight and obese people also developed heart disease at an earlier age than those with normal weights, according to the study.

“Our findings suggest that healthcare providers need to continue to be aware of the increased risk of earlier cardiovascular disease faced by overweight and obese people,” said Sadiya Khan, MD, an instructor of medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg Schools of Medicine in Chicago. “Healthcare providers should emphasize the importance of maintaining healthy weight throughout their lives to live longer, healthier lives.”