HEART
December 3, 2010

Gaining Weight Harms the Heart

Gaining weight wreaks havoc on the heart and significantly ups the odds for heart disease. Better put that cookie down.

If we weren’t already convinced that carrying around some extra weight is bad for our hearts, a new study shows how gaining just a few pounds can significantly impact the health of our hearts and blood vessels. The study was presented at this month’s annual meeting of the American Heart Association.

If you think gaining a few pounds around the holidays is not big deal, the results of the study may suggest otherwise.

The authors of the current study pooled data from three earlier studies comprising roughly 81,000 people. The studies monitored changes the participants’ weight as well as their risk for ischemic heart disease, in which the arteries are narrowed and blood flow through the vessels is restricted.

For every 8.8-pound increase in weight, the participants’ odds of developing ischemic heart disease rose by a whopping 52%. Therefore, if you think gaining a few pounds around the holidays is not big deal, the results of the study may suggest otherwise.

The researchers also looked at several gene variants that are thought to be important in body mass index (BMI) and heart disease. They found that certain genes played roles in both BMI and the development of heart disease, indicating that the genes involved in the one may also lead to the other.

The authors say that the study shows a cause-and-effect relationship between BMI and heart disease. Most studies, because of the nature of their design, only demonstrate correlation between the two variables. More research will be needed to determine just how the study’s results will add to our understanding of the relationship between weight and heart disease, and whether they may ultimately change how doctors treat these conditions in the future.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

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