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

Heart researchers develop a new, promising imaging technique for cardiac arrhythmias

February 22, 2018
Every five minutes in Germany alone, a person dies of sudden cardiac arrest or fibrillation, the most common cause of death worldwide. This is partly due to the fact that doctors still do not fully understand exactly what ...

Scientists use color-coded tags to discover how heart cells develop

February 22, 2018
UCLA researchers used fluorescent colored proteins to trace how cardiomyocytes—cells in heart muscle that enable it to pump blood—are produced in mouse embryos. The findings could eventually lead to methods for regenerating ...

Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients

February 22, 2018
Beetroot juice supplements may help enhance exercise capacity in patients with heart failure, according to a new proof-of-concept study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients' quality of life and even ...

'Beetroot pill' could help save patients from kidney failure after heart X-ray

February 22, 2018
Beetroot may reduce the risk of kidney failure in patients having a heart x-ray, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London.

Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars

February 20, 2018
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart ...

Can your cardiac device be hacked?

February 20, 2018
Medical devices, including cardiovascular implantable electronic devices could be at risk for hacking. In a paper publishing online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Cardiology's ...

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.