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Obese adolescents already have heart damage

Obese adolescents with no symptoms of heart disease already have heart damage, according to new research.

Heart Failure (HF)


Obese adolescents with no symptoms of heart disease already have heart damage, according to new research.

The findings were presented at the Heart Failure Congress 2012, 19-22 May, in Belgrade, Serbia. The Congress is the main annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology.

Obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and previous research has shown that obese adults have structural and functional changes to their hearts. The current study (abstract P843) investigated the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and cardiac function in overweight and obese adolescents with no symptoms of heart disease.

For the study, 97 healthy adolescents had their weight, height, waist circumference and hip circumference measured. BMI and waist/hip ratio were calculated. Blood and biochemistry tests and an echocardiogram were performed. Based on their BMI, patients were divided into three groups: lean (L=32 patients), overweight (Ov=33 patients) and obese (Ob=32 patients).

Several measures of heart size were made using information from the echocardiogram. Interventricular septal and left ventricular posterior wall thickness increased as BMI increased (L: 0.84+0.1 cm, Ov: 0.88+0.1 cm, Ob: 0.96+0.1cm, p=0.001; and L: 0.78+0.1 cm, Ov: 0.8+0.1 cm, Ob: 0.94+0.1cm, p=0.001, respectively).

Relative wall thickness and left ventricular mass index also increased in parallel to BMI (L: 0.34+0.05, Ov: 0.34+0.05, Ob: 0.40+0.04, p=0.001; and L: 47.7+8.4 g/m2, Ov: 51.9+8.3 g/m2, Ob: 65.2+13.3 g/m2, p=0.001, respectively).

Measures of heart function were also performed. Left ventricular early diastolic lateral and septal velocities were reduced only in obese adolescents (L: 15.3+3.9cm/s, Ov: 13.6+4 cm/s, Ob: 10.5+3.4 cm/s, p=0.001; and L: 12.2+2.3 cm/s, Ov: 11.1+2.4 cm/s, Ob: 9.8+3.1 cm/s, p=0.003, respectively).

Systolic velocities were also only reduced in obese adolescents (L: 9.2+1.4cm/s, Ov: 9.3+2.3 cm/s, Ob: 8.04+1.5 cm/s, p = 0.018; and L: 9.05+2.3 cm/s, Ov: 9+2.4 cm/s, Ob: 7.6+1.1 cm/s, p=0.014, respectively).

Left ventricular lateral diastolic (r=-0.44, p=0.001) and systolic (r=-0.29, p=0.005) velocities correlated with BMI.

Obese adolescents with no symptoms of heart disease had damaged hearts with thicker walls. The systolic and diastolic function of their hearts was also impaired. Both structural and functional measures correlated with BMI. These findings may explain why obesity is a risk for heart disease.

“Education on healthy food and exercise is needed in schools to prevent obesity and early cardiovascular disease in adolescents,” says lead author Professor Gani Bajraktari, professor of internal medicine and cardiology at the University of Pristina in Kosovo. “This is an important step in preventing obesity and cardiovascular disease in adults.”

More studies are needed to show whether the heart damage in obese adolescents can be reversed if they lose weight.


“Poster session 3: Cardiomyopathy (other)” Poster Session – Poster Area - Monday May 21, 8.30 am to 12.30 am. D Maras, Abnormal myocardial systolic and diastolic myocardial function in obese asymptomatic adolescents

Notes to editor

For practical information about heart failure aimed at patients, families and caregivers, visit the HFA’s Heart Failure Matters website here

Heart Failure2012 is the annual meeting of Heart Failure Association (HFA) a registered branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). HeartFailure2012 takes place 19 to 22 May 2012 at Sava Centar, Belgrad – Serbia. The full scientific programme is accessible here.

About Heart Failure 2012 Registration
Online registration is now closed. On-site registration opens at 14:00 on 18 May.

About the venue
Sava Centar - Congress Culture & Business Center
Milentija Popovića 9 St, - 11070 Belgrade, Serbia
Tel: +381 11 220 60 00

Link to the abstract: here

Interviews can be arranged through the ESC press office before the event at
Tel +33(0)4 92 94 8627

Contact on site: Celine Colas – ESC Press Office Coordinator - +33 6 22 41 84 92

About the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 75,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean.  Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.
About the Heart Failure Association (HFA)
The Heart Failure Association (HFA) is a registered branch of the ESC. Its aim is to improve quality of life and longevity, through better prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart failure, including the establishment of networks for its management, education and research.


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