Contrary to what you usually hear about being overweight and heart health, a new study found that being obese may actually improve the chances of survival after a heart attack. The counter-intuitive findings stem from the fact that excess fat appears to actually fight heart disease.
Scientists have long been puzzled as to why people deemed to be very overweight consistently out-lived those with a healthy Body Mass Index after having a heart attack.
The new study collected tissue from patients undergoing heart surgery and discovered that fat surrounding the damaged blood vessels releases chemicals that actually start to battle heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death for most ethnicities in the United States and , killing more than 600,000 people each year and accounting for 1 in 4 deaths. The heart’s blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, essentially starving the heart and leading to an attack.
It has long been thought that all fat was bad for people with heart disease, full stop. Yet the new research seems to indicate that over a certain level fat starts to have a protective effect. While this makes obese people more likely to have a heart attack, they are at the same time more likely to survive.
University of Oxford cardiology professor Charalambos Antoniades said: “Fat has a bad reputation but we’re learning more and more about how and why certain types of fat in the body are actually essential for good heart health. These findings are an important step towards a treatment that ensures this fat stays onside throughout our lives to help prevent heart disease.”
Prof Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the study, said: “This high quality research carried out on people and using human tissue has provided new perspectives on the roles of fat in heart disease and has implications for future treatment.”