New York : A new study, said to be one of the largest of its kind, yet again links severe obesity to prolonged inflammation of heart tissues and subsequent heart failure.
“The biological effects of obesity on the heart are quite profound,” said João Lima of Johns Hopkins and a co-author of the study.
“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 added that there was “now even more reason for them to lose weight, increase their physical activity and improve their eating habits”.
The latest findings are from the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) to be published in the forthcoming issue of the journal of the American College of Cardiology.
As part of the study, researchers tracked the development of heart failure in an ethnically diverse group of nearly 7,000 men and women, aged 45 to 84, who were enrolled for MESA.
Of the 79 who have developed congestive heart failure so far, 35 (44 percent) were physically obese, having a body mass index (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 also found alarming links between inflammation and the dangerous mix of heart disease risk factors known as the metabolic syndrome.
Its combined risk factors for heart disease and diabetes – high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, excess abdominal fat, abnormal cholesterol levels, and particularly obesity – double a person’s chances of developing heart failure.
“More practically, physicians need to monitor their obese patients for early signs of inflammation in the heart and to use this information in determining how aggressively to treat the condition,” said Lima.