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Overweight people need to curb blood pressure to cut heart attack risk, doctors say

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A new study indicates that obese or overweight people who lower their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels could cut their risk of heart disease and stroke by more than half. In 97 studies that included a total of more than 1.8 million people worldwide, researchers found that high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels explain up to half of overweight and obese people's increased risk of heart disease.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - These same factors account for three-quarters of their increased risk of stroke. Overall, high blood pressure posed the greatest threat, accounting for 31 percent of the increased risk of heart disease and 65 percent of the increased risk of stroke.

Recently published online in The Lancet, senior study author Goodarz Danaei says that "Our results show that the harmful effects of overweight and obesity on heart disease and stroke partly occur by increasing blood pressure, serum cholesterol and blood [sugar]."

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Danaei, an assistant professor of global health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, says that "controlling these risk factors -- for example, through better diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure -- can prevent some of the harmful effects of overweight and obesity," he added.

Obesity has become a a global epidemic. As developing nations find themselves with more income and more leisure time, people across the world have become more and more overweight. Obesity has nearly doubled worldwide since 1980.

More than 1.4 billion adults aged 20 and older are currently overweight or obese. Health problems associated with overweight and obesity include heart disease, stroke and diabetes, coupled with several types of cancer.

Moreover, about 3.4 million people worldwide die each year because of overweight and obesity, according to the researchers.

Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes will be "an essential but partial and temporary response" to the obesity epidemic, study co-author Majid Ezzati, a professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London says.

"As we use these effective tools, we need to find creative approaches that can curb and reverse the global obesity epidemic," Ezzati added.

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