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Piling on Pounds When Younger May Lead to Enlarged Heart Later
Date:3/7/2013

THURSDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Carrying around excess body weight, particularly in early adulthood, can result in a dangerously enlarged heart later in life, a new study finds.

"There are already multiple reasons to target obesity at a young age, but this study adds yet another," said one expert not connected to the study, Dr. Eugenia Gianos, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City. "Targeting obesity at a young age is exceptionally valuable to improving cardiovascular health and this study reaffirms this."

In the study, British researchers assessed the body mass index (a measurement based on weight and height) and heart health of more than 1,600 men and women at different time periods in their lives.

They found that those who were overweight throughout their lives were much more likely to have increases in the heart's left ventricular mass and relative wall thickness. Both of these are strong and independent predictors of cardiovascular disease and death, the researchers said.

However, the earlier in life that a person became overweight, the greater the increase in his or her heart size later in life. For example, the hearts of people who were overweight beginning in their 20s were 7 percent heavier than the hearts of people who became overweight in their 60s, according to the study scheduled for presentation Thursday at an annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), in San Francisco.

"Being overweight in your 20s can have detrimental effects on the heart 40 years in the future, especially if you keep the weight on over the years," lead investigator Arjun Ghosh, a clinical research fellow at the International Centre for Circulatory Health of Britain's National Heart and Lung Institute, said in an ACC news release.

"It's probably the wrong attitude to think 'I know I'm overweight now, but I'll lose the weight later' be
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