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Diet & Health : Heart & Blood Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Overweight, physical inactivity boosts heart failure risk
By Sue Mueller
Dec 23, 2008 - 9:24:49 AM

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Tuesday Dec 23, 2008 ( -- Simply having some extra pounds and being physically inactive a bit may dramatically boost your risk of heart failure, a new study in the Dec 23 2008 issue of Circulation suggests.


The study led by Dr. Satish Kenchaiah at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues found that after adjusting potential confounders, overweight people were 49 percent more likely to experience heart failure compared with those with normal body weight.


Heart failure (HF) is a condition in which a problem with the structure or function of the heart impairs its ability to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the body's needs, according to Wikipedia.


The study followed more than 21,000 doctors for two decades. At baseline, 5 percent of the doctors were obese and 40 percent were overweight.   Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or above while overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.


In the United States, it is estimated that only 30 percent of the population are physically active, but two thirds have excessive body weight.  


The researchers found higher BMI was associated with higher risk of heart failure.   Obese people were found at 180 percent higher risk of heart failure.


Physical activity helped reduce risk of heart failure. Those who engaged in physical activity one to three times a month were 18 percent less likely to have heart failure and those who were physically active five to seven times a week were 36 percent less likely to have the condition.


More than 650,000 cases of heart failure are expected in the country each year.   And about 80 percent of men and 75 percent of women aged 65 who are diagnosed with heart failure are expected to die within eight years.

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