ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
CANCER
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Coffee Drinkers Might Live Longer
Compound in Red Wine Fights Ravages of Age
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
EYE CARE, VISION
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Soluble Fiber, But Not Bran, Soothes Irritable Bowel
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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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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