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Study in 7,000 men and women ties obesity, inflammatory proteins to heart failure risk
Date:5/1/2008

Heart specialists at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere report what is believed to be the first wide-scale evidence linking severe overweight to prolonged inflammation of heart tissue and the subsequent damage leading to failure of the bodys blood-pumping organ.

The latest findings from the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), to be published in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, appear to nail down yet one more reason for the estimated 72 million obese American adults to be concerned about their health, say scientists who conducted the research.

The biological effects of obesity on the heart are quite profound, says senior study investigator Joo Lima, M.D. Even if obese people feel otherwise healthy, there are measurable and early chemical signs of damage to their heart, beyond the well-known implications for diabetes and high blood pressure.

He adds that there is now even more reason for them to lose weight, increase their physical activity and improve their eating habits.

In the latest study, researchers conducted tests and tracked the development of heart failure in an ethnically diverse group of nearly 7,000 men and women, age 45 to 84, who were enrolled in the MESA study, starting in 2000.

Of the 79 who have developed congestive heart failure so far, 35 (44 percent) were physically obese, having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or greater. And on average, obese participants were found to have higher blood levels of interleukin 6, C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, key immune system proteins involved in inflammation, than non-obese adults.

A near doubling of average interleukin 6 levels alone accounted for an 84 percent greater risk of developing heart failure in the study population.

The researchers from five universities across the United States also found alarming links between inflammation and the dangerous mix of heart disease risk factors known as
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Contact: David March
dmarch1@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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