ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
CANCER
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Run for Your Life
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Broccoli May Help Battle 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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