ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Osteoporosis May Raise Risk for Vertigo
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
FITNESS
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
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
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
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
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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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