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Heavier People Have Heart Attacks Earlier
Date:9/9/2008

12 years sooner for the most obese, new research finds

TUESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The fatter you are, the more likely you are to have a heart attack earlier in life, a new study shows.

"Basically, it is showing that as people got progressively more obese, the rate at which they had heart attacks early went up dramatically," said Dr. Eric D. Peterson, a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center's Division of Cardiology and a member of the group reporting the findings.

Cardiologists at several institutions studied data on more than 111,000 people who had heart attacks, looking specifically at body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity. Someone with a BMI of 30 or above is regarded as obese; a person 5 feet, 7 inches tall who weighs 192 pounds has a BMI of 30.

The average age of a first heart attack for people with a BMI of 18.5 or under was 74.6 years. For people with a BMI of 40 or over, it was 58.7 years. The age at which a first heart attack occurred went up steadily with increasing BMI -- 3.5 years earlier for a BMI of 25 to 30; 6.8 years earlier for a BMI 30 to 35; 9.4 years for a BMI of 35 to 40; and 12 years earlier for a BMI 40 or higher.

"That is a pretty profound difference," Peterson said.

One reason for the difference is that obese people are more likely to have other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. "But even after adjusting for those factors, just being heavy added considerable risk," Peterson said.

The findings are published in the Sept. 16 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Another study in the same issue of the journal provided evidence for a mechanism by which obesity increases cardiac risk. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands had obese people with diabetes practice "prolonged calorie restriction," or dieting in layman's terms.'/>"/>

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