ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
DIET, NUTRITION
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
EYE CARE, VISION
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
Thyroid Problems Boost Glaucoma Risk
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Football Can Shrink Players
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Autumn Chores Often Hazardous
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
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Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- The excess fat that leads people to develop heart disease can help them fight against the condition's worst effects, a review of cardiac studies shows.

It's the "obesity paradox," said Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, and lead author of the review, which appears in the May 26 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Obesity is a major problem that contributes significantly to increased risk of heart disease and mortality," Lavie said. "But once you get high blood pressure, blocked heart arteries and peripheral arterial disease, the obese patients do better than the lean patients. The obesity paradox has been written about for years, but still many doctors are not aware of it."

His report looked at data from 40 studies of 250,000 people with heart disease, Lavie said. He wanted not only to remind doctors of the paradox, but also to warn them and the general public that it offers no excuse for being fat, he said.

Some physicians have misinterpreted the evidence to mean that obese people with heart disease should not be encouraged to lose weight, Lavie said.

"Obesity causes many of the known risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and it is an independent risk factor on its own," he said. "The patients with heart disease who do the best are the obese who lose weight."

There are several possible explanations for the paradox, Lavie said.

One is that obese people visit physicians earlier than others because they develop symptoms, such as fatigue and breathing problems. Heart disease is more treatable if identified early.

It's also conceivable that something in the excess fat cells of obese people might have a protective value, Lavie said.

"People who have more weight can have more reserve ability to fight disease," he said. "Take breast cancer. Obesity may help cause breast cancer, but a 200-pound woman might be able to fight breast cancer better than a 100-pound woman because she has more metabolic reserve."

It's well-known that obesity leads to heart disease, and that's a big part of the paradox, Lavie said. "These people wouldn't have developed heart disease in the first place if they weren't obese," he said. "A thin person is getting it [heart disease] for a different reason, so he or she is getting a worse form of the disease, getting the disease despite being thin."

Lavie worries that people might get the wrong idea from his report. "Obesity in the United States is a major problem," he said. "It is increasing in skyrocketing proportions. It is a major contributor to the epidemic of heart disease. We don't want people to be hearing that obesity is good."

More information

Obesity in the United States and the medical problems associated with it are described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Carl J. Lavie, M.D., medical director, cardiac rehabilitation and prevention, Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans; May 26, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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