June 1, 2009

Obesity, diabetes fuel heart failure risk

The twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes will fuel an explosion in heart failure, researchers in Scotland suggest.

John McMurray, professor of cardiology at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, said about one-third of patients with heart failure have evidence of diabetes, and for them the outlook is very serious and effective treatment is very difficult.

McMurray emphasizes obesity is not just associated with an increased risk of heart attack, but also, and especially, with an increased risk of heart failure.

Obesity is at least as great a risk factor for heart failure as it is for heart attack or stroke, McMurray says in a statement. Obesity more than doubles the risk.

The pathways by which obesity plays such a role in heart failure are not yet fully understood, but have been shown to have an indirect effect through hypertension, heart attack or diabetes -- and a direct effect on the heart muscle itself, McMurray says.

The finding was presented at the Heart Failure Congress in Nice, France.