ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
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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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