High BMI and blood pressure create a heavy heart

October 4, 2017, Queen Mary, University of London
High BMI and blood pressure create a heavy heart
Credit: Queen Mary, University of London

Being overweight or obese creates damaging changes to the structure of the heart, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The new research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, uses UK Biobank data to reveal – for the first time – the direct damage that carrying extra weight has on the heart's weight and size, and implicates a range of other modifiable risk factors including high .

The British Heart Foundation-funded research, which included academics from University of Oxford, used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging to carefully study the structure and function of the hearts of 4,561 people from the UK Biobank database - an international health resource following the health and well-being of 500,000 volunteer participants.

After adjusting for risk factors that can't be modified, the team were able to measure the effects of a range of , including blood pressure, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), exercise, cholesterol, alcohol intake and diabetes, on the four chambers of the heart. They showed that risk factors could all have varying effects on the heart, but an overall increased heart weight was linked to overweight and obese individuals.

Previous studies have definitively proven the link between high BMI and but have predominantly shown how it increases blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of developing diabetes, which are all independent risk factors for heart disease. This new study was able to see and measure the direct damage that modifiable have on the structure and function of the heart.

'The silent impact of being overweight'

Professor Steffen Petersen, lead author at QMUL's William Harvey Research Institute, said: "We all know that our lifestyle has a big impact on our heart health – particularly if we're overweight or obese. But researchers haven't fully understood how exactly the two things are linked.

"With this research, we've helped to show how an unhealthy lifestyle increases your risk of heart disease. BMI and blood pressure in particular led to heavier and bigger hearts, which increases the risk of heart problems, including heart attacks."

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "This research shows the silent impact of being overweight and having on the structure and function of the heart, which over time may lead to heart disease and heart failure.

"The important message is that these are things we have the power to change before they result in irreversible damage."

Explore further: 'Fat but fit' are at increased risk of heart disease

More information: Steffen E. Petersen et al. The impact of cardiovascular risk factors on cardiac structure and function: Insights from the UK Biobank imaging enhancement study, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185114

Related Stories

'Fat but fit' are at increased risk of heart disease

August 14, 2017
Carrying extra weight could raise your risk of heart attack by more than a quarter, even if you are otherwise healthy.

Risk factors explain most heart failure risk in incident A-fib

June 19, 2017
(HealthDay)—Four modifiable factors account for most of the population attributable risk of heart failure among women with new-onset atrial fibrillation (AF), according to a study published online June 14 in JACC: Heart ...

Gaining a few pounds may increase long-term heart failure risk

July 19, 2017
Gaining even a little weight over time may alter the structure and function of heart muscle, affecting long-term risk of heart failure, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access ...

Do I need a heart scan?

August 4, 2017
Dear Mayo Clinic: I'm a 57-year-old man, and my doctor recently recommended I have a CT scan of my heart to look for calcium in my arteries. I've never had heart problems. Is this test really necessary?

Researchers find link between a high fat diet, obesity and cardiovascular disease risk

February 13, 2017
Obesity and a diet high in fat could lead to a harmful activation of the immune system, increasing a person's risk of heart disease, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Know your heart's numbers

February 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—More than two-thirds of Americans fret about heart disease, but few know the specific information that can help them boost their heart health, a new survey finds.

Recommended for you

New link found between alcohol, genes and heart failure

May 25, 2018
The researchers investigated faulty versions of a gene called titin which are carried by one in 100 people or 600,000 people in the UK.

Study examines the rise of plaque in arteries

May 25, 2018
The accumulation of cholesterol plaques in artery walls can lead to atherosclerosis, or the hardening of arteries that contributes to heart attacks and strokes. In a new study, Yale researchers investigate how plaque cells ...

Low-dose aspirin could help pregnant women with high blood pressure avoid a dangerous condition

May 25, 2018
A daily dose of aspirin could help pregnant women in the first stage of high blood pressure avoid a condition that puts both mother and baby in danger, according to a new study.

Study shows in-home therapy effective for stroke rehabilitation

May 24, 2018
In-home rehabilitation, using a telehealth system and supervised by licensed occupational/physical therapists, is an effective means of improving arm motor status in stroke survivors, according to findings presented by University ...

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

May 23, 2018
An operation that targets the nerves connected to the kidney has been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension, according to the results of a clinical trial led in the UK by Queen Mary University ...

New guidelines mean 1 in 3 adults may need blood pressure meds

May 23, 2018
(HealthDay)—One out of every three U.S. adults has high blood pressure that should be treated with medication, under guidelines recently adopted by the two leading heart health associations.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.