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People can reduce risk of CVD even if they're overweight, obese

Monday November 25, 2013
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Controlling blood pressure, serum cholesterol and blood glucose may substantially reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with being overweight or obese, according to a study.

Among the three factors, hypertension was found to pose the biggest risk of heart disease and an even bigger risk of stroke among overweight or obese participants, reported a worldwide research consortium led by a team from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Imperial College London and the University of Sydney.

“Our results show that the harmful effects of overweight and obesity on heart disease and stroke partly occur by increasing blood pressure, serum cholesterol and blood glucose,” senior author Goodarz Danaei, MD, HSPH assistant professor of global health, said in a news release. “Therefore, if we control these risk factors, for example through better diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, we can prevent some of the harmful effects of overweight and obesity.”

Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to a previous study by the research team, and more than 1.4 billion adults ages 20 and older are overweight or obese. Health consequences of overweight and obesity include heart disease and stroke — the leading causes of death worldwide — diabetes and several types of cancer. The researchers previously estimated that 3.4 million annual deaths are due to overweight and obesity.

Although previous research had indicated that blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar all increase the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke in people who are overweight or obese, this new study — a pooled analysis of 97 prospective studies from around the world that enrolled 1.8 million participants — provides a comprehensive and definitive look by considering blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose separately and together and in different parts of the world.

As reported Nov. 22 on the website of The Lancet, the researchers looked at these three factors because they are likely pathways through which obesity increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and because they are of interest to physicians and public health agencies.

They found that hypertension, serum cholesterol and blood glucose explain up to half the increased risk of heart disease and three-quarters of the increased risk of stroke among overweight or obese participants. Hypertension poses the biggest risk of the three metabolic factors examined. It accounted for 31% of the increased risk of heart disease and 65% of the increased risk of stroke among overweight or obese individuals.

“Controlling hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes will be an essential but partial and temporary response to the obesity epidemic,” Majid Ezzati, a co-author and professor of global environmental health, Imperial College London, said in the news release. “As we use these effective tools, we need to find creative approaches that can curb and reverse the global obesity epidemic.”

Study abstract: http://bit.ly/17zDdjm

Read about a recent Danish steady that, in contrast, stated overweight and obesity are dangerous regardless of other risk factors: http://news.nurse.com/article/20131112/NATIONAL06/111120009


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