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New research suggests that being obese for decades increases the risk of heart disease. According to the study, published in the Clinical Chemistry journal, each year spent carrying additional fat contributes to a distinct risk factor for sustaining heart damage in the future.
To reach this conclusion, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University evaluated over 9 thousand participants who had no prior history of cardiovascular disease. The participants were monitored over an 11-year period, from 1987 to 1998.
Over the course of the study, the participants were assessed four times, with the researchers focusing on their body mass index (BMI), history of heart disease, and a protein released into the bloodstream during a heart attack called troponin. Traces of this protein point to a person being at high risk of heart failure.
The participants also had to report their weight at age 25 as to allow researchers to better track their BMI from young adulthood through late middle age and elderly years.
According to the study, those who reported a BMI score of more than 25 meant that they were overweight, while participants with a BMI over 30 indicates obesity.
Researchers tracked the participants’ BMI over the 11-year period and found that those who had BMI levels in the overweight or obesity range by the fourth evaluation were 1.5 times likelier to have increased troponin levels, indicating heart damage.
Those who were obese at both the first and fourth visits were twice as likely to have increased troponin levels to more than 14 nanograms per liter, as opposed to participants who had a normal weight.
Once they accounted for heart disease factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease, the researchers found that every decade that a person spent being obese increased their risk of having higher troponin levels.
Previous studies have concluded that obesity cause heart disease, however, this new study suggests that the number of years spent being overweight or obese also plays a factor.
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