Heavy Hearts

A growing body of evidence shows there’s no such thing as “fat but fit” when it comes to cardiac health.

In December 2013, study results published in Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers from Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada, revealed some startling information: Overweight or obese people (determined by body mass index or BMI) who are metabolically healthy—having normal-range blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels—were at higher risk for heart disease-related illnesses and deaths than people in a normal weight range who also had normal blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

Fast-forward to August 2017, and results from a study published online by the European Heart Journal from researchers at Imperial College London, University College London and other European organizations confirmed these findings. The study, which examined data gathered from 520,000 people for an ongoing cancer-nutrition link research, found study participants who were metabolically healthy but overweight experienced as much as a 28 percent higher risk of coronary artery disease, a condition linked to heart attack and cardiac-related deaths.

Double Trouble

The 2017 study also found that those whose BMI categorized them as overweight or obese and had at least three markers of metabolic dysfunction (high blood pressure, high glucose, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and above normal hip-to-waist ratio) had a risk for coronary artery disease that was more than double that of the healthy weight group.

Beating the Odds

Reducing the risk of coronary artery disease-related illness and death is achievable, sometimes by simply committing to lifestyle changes that may seem challenging at first, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet and exercising. When diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to control risk factors like high blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol, prescription medication can typically offer a solution.

The Rx for BP: Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends adults exercise for 40 minutes or longer, three to four days a week, as a way to help control high blood pressure. The recommendation calls for “moderate to vigorous” activity that could be as easy as walking at a fast pace or pedaling a bicycle.

BMI calculator


heart.org, annals.orgacademic.oup.comimperial.ac.ukheart.org, heart.org, cdc.gov


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