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.
The 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
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
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