November 25, 2004

Researchers Studying Bmi in Men Who’Ve Had Heart Attack or Stroke

BMI, or body mass index, is considered an indicator of both mortality and heart attack risk among middle-aged and older men free of major diseases. However, the impact of BMI on mortality in men who have already had a heart attack or stroke has not been clearly established.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, in fact, have reported that men with high body mass who have already experienced a heart attack or stroke did not have a significantly greater risk of overall death or death from cardiovascular disease.

Authors said that although it is a matter of debate as to why BMI may be less important in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, in primary prevention having a progressively higher BMI results in large increases in the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and other disorders.

For those men who have already suffered from a heart attack or stroke, researchers must identify stronger risk factors than body mass index for mortality to ensure that an optimal secondary prevention strategy is used.

BWH is a nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners Healthcare System, an integrated health-care delivery network.

Obesity on rise in older adults

An analysis led by a University of Cincinnati researcher calculates that the number of obese adults over the age of 60 will rise from 14.6 million in 2000 to 20.9 million in 2010, an increase of 43 percent.

"This trend is likely to have important effects on the health, quality of life and cost of care of older adults," the authors write. "The greater number of obese individuals will likely further threaten the economic viability of the health-care financing and delivery system for the elderly."

The elderly already account for more than one-third of all health- care spending in the United States. It is estimated that lifetime medical costs for obese men and women are 42 to 56 percent greater than for people with a normal body weight.

- Carolyn Susman