Young, Overweight Adults May Increase Risk of Cardiac Death

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Obesity is still rising among young adults, despite more than a decade of public awareness campaigns and other efforts to get people to control their weight. And as of recently, women have overtaken men in the obesity department.

A new study published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology indicates that being overweight during early adulthood may lead to a risk of sudden cardiac death.

Lead researcher Stephanie Chiuve, ScD, and colleagues at the Harvard Medical School, examined data from the long-running Nurses Health Study, which followed 77,484 healthy women from 1980 to 2012. The group observed 445 cases of sudden cardiac death, 1,286 cases of fatal coronary heart disease, and 2,272 non-fatal myocardial infarctions.

The results indicated that women who had a body mass index (BMI) between 25-30, and those overweight with a BMI of 30 or greater, were between 1.5 and two times more likely to experience sudden cardiac death in the following two years, as compared to women with a BMI of 21 to 23.

Researchers also pointed out that weight gain in early- to mid-adulthood correlated with a greater risk of sudden cardiac death as young as 18, regardless of their BMI. Likewise, women who have a higher BMI were also at greater risk of fatal coronary heart disease.

Additionally, about three-quarters of patients who experience sudden cardiac death are not at high risk under current guidelines, so, according to the authors, broader prevention strategies are needed to reduce the problem of sudden cardiac death, including paying more attention to weight gain in early adulthood.