You’re probably aware that carrying too much weight can damage your health. But you may not know that a lot of the damage — including diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure — can develop without your even feeling it, and can lead to heart disease, disability ,or death.
According to a study conducted at the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure, “obesity is a well-known accomplice in the development of heart disease.” The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Chiadi Ndumele, adds that “our findings suggest it may be a solo player that drives heart failure independently of other risk factors that are often found among those with excess weight.”
More than 9,500 participants between the ages of 53 and 75 from Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, and North Carolina were followed for 12 years. None of the participants had heart disease at the start of the study. During the timeframe of the study, 869 developed heart failure, an inability to properly pump blood throughout the body.
The study showed that severely obese people developed heart failure at twice the rate of those with normal weight. Obesity was determined to be an independent risk for heart damage and heart failure, often without any outward symptoms.
“The direct relationship we found between obesity and subclinical heart damage is quite potent and truly concerning from a public health standpoint given the growing number of obese people in the United States and worldwide,” Dr. Ndumele said in a news release.
Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, added: “these results are a wake-up call that obesity may further fuel the growing rate of heart failure, and clinicians who care for obese people should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the absence of traditional risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension.”
“Obese people, even when free of cardiovascular symptoms, should be monitored for the earliest signs of heart failure and counseled on ways to improve their lifestyle habits,” he said.