Healthy Years Lost to Obesity, Hypertension, and Diabetes

Researchers have put some numbers to the life expectancy lost to obesity and its most common associated conditions. The message, as always, is that it is a bad idea to let yourself accumulate excess fat tissue. It is easy to let things slide in that direction in this modern age of comparative wealth and plenty, but there are consequences, even for being just moderately overweight:

Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are known risk factors for heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. For the first time, scientists have quantified the average number of heart failure-free years a person gains by not developing those risk factors by age 45. The study found that people who had obesity, hypertension and diabetes by age 45 were diagnosed with heart failure 11 to 13 years earlier, on average, than people who had none of those risk factors by age 45. People who had only one or two of the risk factors, but not all three, developed heart failure an average of three to 11 years earlier than people with none of the risk factors. Despite advances in heart disease treatment and prevention, the pattern was consistent across data collected over the past 40 years. "The associations between these risk factors and heart failure has been remarkably stable over time. Although the prevalence of some of these risk factors has changed, the association remains the same."

"The message from this study is that you really want to prevent or delay the onset of these risk factors for as long as possible. Doing so can significantly increase the number of years you are likely to live free of heart failure. In the clinic, we often give patients metrics of risk that are relative and abstract. It's a much more powerful message, when you're talking to patients in their 30s or 40s, to say that they will be able to live 11 to 13 years longer without heart failure if they can avoid developing these three risk factors now."



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