Innumerable previous studies have concluded that people who have a high Body Mass Index (BMI) or simply stated, those who are overweight, are associated with a larger risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However a recent study by a team of Columbia researchers indicates, suprisingly, that senior patients (i.e. patients who are 75 and over), with a BMI of 25 and above run a lower risk of complications and death from cardiovascular diseases.
The study entitled " The Effect of Body Mass Index on Complications from Cardiac Surgery in the Oldest Old ", which was led by Mathew S. Maurer, MD, included 1470 patients who underwent cardiovascular surgery between 1991 and 1998. The average age of the participant group was 70 with patients aged between 75 and 94. The study concluded that for the especially old patients in the group, increased BMI does not increase the risk of complications from cardiovascular surgery.
The study included cardiovascular procedures such as coronary artery bypass grafting, aortic valve repair, and others. While among the general population obesity leads to detriment in overall health and adverse outcomes following surgery, in the older patients, outcomes were worse for significantly thinner patients, in terms of wound infections and other complications and also in terms of mortality. The study also indicated that the benefits were more significant in the oldest old.
The study assumes significance as it shows how less the medical community knows about the older population and how much more physicians and surgeons need to learn about the physiology of older patients. Doctors connected with the study point out that by exploring what happens to people as they age, one will have the information to tailor one's care to this patient population.