Study confirms obese people have better survival rates following heart procedure

Heart procedure
Posted on 02 August 2017

Research has confirmed that overweight people undergoing coronary heart procedure are more likely to survive and have fewer complications compared to patients with a healthy weight.

The study, led by Keele University and undertaken at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), found the link in overweight patients following percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), a non-surgical procedure used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries, improving blood flow to the heart.

This research found that the BMI of patients undergoing PCI procedures has increased over time. It also found that those patients with a higher BMI, specifically overweight patients, have far fewer complications and better clinical outcomes compared to either normal weight or underweight patients.

The link between higher BMI and better clinical outcomes supports the obesity paradox. This is a medical theory whereby overweight patients tend to have better outcomes for a number of different cardiovascular conditions than either patients of a ‘normal’ weight or underweight patients.

Professor Mamas Mamas, Professor of Cardiology at Keele University and Consultant Cardiologist at UHNM, led this research, alongside Dr Eric Holroyd, Consultant Cardiologist at UHNM, and other colleagues from the Trust.

Professor Mamas said: “We have found that patients over time are becoming heavier and more obese. For many years fat tissue was considered an inert tissue, but we now know that it releases hormones and other substances that may have a protective effect on patients.

“The important thing to say is that patients shouldn’t try to become obese in the hope that it will improve their outcomes. The effect size of this study was small, and obesity is associated with significant problems such as cancer, diabetes development, and cardiovascular risk, so patients should maintain a healthy weight.

“More work will be required to understand the obesity paradox, whether it is a real biological phenomenon or whether it is driven by unmeasured facts such as obese patients being younger and therefore healthier overall, compared to more elderly and frail patients that are underweight or of normal weight.”

This study, funded by UHNM Charity, looked at data from all PCI procedures undertaken in the UK between 2005 and 2013.