Obesity and Heart Failure Risk Definitely Linked
It sounds like old news, but it’s brand new: An international research team announced recently that being obese causes a number of adverse health conditions. Among them; a significantly greater risk of developing heart failure. In fact, according to the results of the study, published in PLOS Medicine, an increase of just one unit in Body Mass Index (BMI) boosts the risk of heart failure by a striking 20%. Obesity also increases the odds a person will have high blood insulin levels, high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids (e.g. high LDL-cholesterol), increased inflammation and a greater risk of diabetes.
Of course, all of that sounds like common sense. After all, we’ve been hearing for years about associations among obesity and these unhealthy conditions. But this latest study’s design is what’s newsworthy. Researchers were able to establish causation by drawing upon data gleaned from more than 200,000 people living in Europe, and employing sophisticated statistical methodology to tease out relationships among the variables studied. The analysis shows that obesity CAUSES a dramatic increase in the risk of developing heart failure. While establishing associations is an important step in science, determining causation is far more definitive.
“...We can now confirm what many people have long believed,” said Erik Ingelsson, professor at Uppsala University, “that increased BMI contributes to the development of heart failure...This knowledge is important, as it strengthens the evidence that forceful societal measures need to be taken to counteract the epidemic of obesity and its consequences.”
Fall T, Hägg S, Mägi R, Ploner A, Fischer K, et al. (2013) The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001474. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474