Heart Health

published : 2023-09-09

Heart disease deaths linked to obesity triple in 20 years, study finds: 'Increasing burden'

Dr. Marc Siegel explains why obesity strains the heart

A photo of a diverse group of people engaging in physical activities like jogging or cycling, highlighting the importance of an active lifestyle in combating obesity. (Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Obesity has long been recognized as a risk factor for various diseases. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association now emphasizes its connection to heart-related deaths.

Over a span of 20 years, the number of obesity-related heart disease deaths in the U.S. has tripled, according to researchers.

Among racial groups, Black women had the highest rates of fatal heart disease linked to obesity, followed by individuals of American Indian or Alaska Native descent.

Dr. Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, a cardiologist and clinical lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute, points out that the number of people with obesity is increasing globally.

This rising trend of obesity is resulting in a rise in heart disease deaths, as demonstrated by this study.

In the study, electronic health records of 281,135 heart disease deaths were analyzed, with obesity noted as a contributing factor. Researchers also looked at gender, race, and urban versus rural settings.

An image depicting a plate of healthy and nutritious food options, emphasizing the role of proper nutrition in maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of heart disease. (Taken with Nikon D850)

Between 1999 and 2020, heart disease deaths rose from 2.2 to 6.6 per 100,000 people, indicating a significant increase.

Black women showed the highest rates of fatal heart disease linked to obesity, while men of other racial groups were more likely to be affected than women.

Notably, Black adults living in urban areas experienced more obesity-linked heart disease deaths compared to those living in rural environments. Conversely, the trend was reversed for other racial groups.

Dr. Mamas A. Mamas, a professor of cardiovascular medicine, highlights the striking difference in obesity-related cardiovascular death rates between Black women and men compared to other racial groups.

Multiple factors contribute to the increased risk of heart disease associated with obesity. Dr. Marc Siegel explains that inflammatory chemicals accumulate in white fat, leading to heightened clotting risks and the buildup of coronary plaques, thereby increasing the chances of sudden heart attacks.

In addition, obesity is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, poor food choices leading to high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, all of which further elevate the risk of death from heart disease.

A picture showcasing a medical professional measuring a person's waist circumference with a measuring tape, symbolizing the importance of regular health check-ups and monitoring in managing obesity-related risks. (Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

Obesity also directly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes due to limited insulin receptors per body surface area.

The study acknowledges potential limitations, including errors in medical coding and data entry.

Data from the American Heart Association reveals that approximately 42% of the U.S. population now has obesity, a 10% increase from the previous decade.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, with an alarming 928,741 deaths reported in 2020.

With the transformational impact of obesity on heart-related deaths highlighted by this study, it is crucial to tackle the growing rates of obesity on a global scale.

Awareness, education, and proactive measures should be taken to address the health risks associated with obesity and reduce the burden of heart disease deaths in the future.