ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Alcohol Abuse Can Damage Bones
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
CANCER
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
CAREGIVING
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
10 Beginner Tips for Fast Weight Loss, the Low-Carb Way!
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Traffic Seems to Make Kids' Asthma Worse
Artificial Light Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
FITNESS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Higher Fitness Levels Tied to Lower Heart, Death Risks
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast 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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