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Excess weight helps women with heart failure, hurts men

Staff writer |
Overweight and mildly obese women with heart failure may live significantly longer than similarly heavy men with the progressive disease, a new study suggests.

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These heavier women may also outlive normal-weight females with heart failure by as much as 16 percent, said lead researcher Dr. Leslie Cho, director of the Cleveland Clinic Women's Cardiovascular Center.

"It is not doomsday when an overweight or mildly obese patient, especially female, develops heart failure, as the prognosis may be quite good," said Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.

"There is an 'obesity paradox' in heart failure," said Lavie, who co-authored an editorial accompanying the study.

"Despite the adverse effects that overweight and obesity have on heart disease risk and on heart function, many studies, including several of my own, show that overweight and at least mildly obese patients with heart failure have a better short-term prognosis than do lean heart failure patients," he explained.

The study involved nearly 4,000 people with heart failure, a conditon where the heart doesn't pump blood the way it should. This potentially fatal disease affects about 5.7 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association.

Cho said the obesity paradox does seem real, but perhaps only for women in cases of heart failure.


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