ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
CANCER
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Many Ignore Symptoms of Bladder Trouble
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Mom's Smoking May Lead to SIDS
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Former Inmates at Increased Risk for High Blood Pressure
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
U.S. Prepares for Possible Return of Swine Flu in Fall
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
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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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