ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Genes May Help Drive Rotator Cuff Injury
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Purple Tomato Extended Lives of Cancer-Prone Mice
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
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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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