An increase in weight in women damages the heart, similar to that experienced with increasing age, according to a study published in BMC Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Oxford studied 1.2 million women over a period of 9 years on an average to study the influence of body mass index on risk of heart disease. The women did not suffer from prior heart disease.
AdvertisementThe researchers found that small increases in body mass index are associated with an increase in risk for heart disease. This was true even if the patient does not fall in the obesity range.
In fact, for every five units increase in body mass index (BMI), the risk of heart disease increased by 23 per cent. This risk is similar to that due to aging over two and a half years. A 10 kg/m2 increase in BMI increased the risk of heart disease similar to that caused by an aging of 5 years.
The incidence of heart disease resulting in hospital admission or death increased progressively from about one in eleven women with a BMI of 21 kg/m2 to one in six women with a BMI of 34 kg/m2 between the ages of 55 and 74 years.
Thus, weight gain has a detrimental effect on the heart, even if it does not result in obesity. The researchers suggest that this risk can be reduced by leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and being physically active.
Dexter Canoy et al. Body mass index and incident coronary heart disease in women: a population-based prospective study. BMC Medicine 2013.