ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Eating your way to Good Health
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Florida Vision Test Law: Fewer Traffic Deaths Among Elderly
FITNESS
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Run for Your Life
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
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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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