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Researcher predicts paradigm shift in heart disease treatment

NEW YORK--As the obesity epidemic grows in the United States, the medical community is faced with the significant challenge of properly treating patients before complications such as heart disease arise. But, as obesity expert Louis Aronne, MD, explained, ongoing research into the endocannabinoid (EC) system shows promise in combating obesity and the associated cardiometabolic risks.

"The picture that is emerging is that there's a cascade of events that occur as a result of an overactivated EC system," said Dr. Aronne, who is director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and clinical professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, in New York. "As we learn more about this system, I believe we'll see a shift in the treatment of obesity, which will effectively reduce cardiovascular disease in the population."

Dr. Aronne spoke today at an American Medical Association media briefing, Cardiovascular Disease, in New York City.

According to Dr. Aronne, researchers believe that the EC system acts as a modulator and coordinator of a variety processes in the body that regulate body weight, energy balance, and glucose homeostasis, as well as the the production and accumulation of triglycerides in adipose tissue and liver, all of which appear to play important roles in the pathophysiology of insulin resistance and diabetes. The term cardiometabolic risk describes the interaction of each of these elements as they relate to the development of cardiovascular disease.

"It seems as though the EC system receptors are overactivated when 'fattening foods' are consumed and weight is gained. This overactivation leads to an increase in food intake and more fat production in the liver," explained Dr. Aronne. "Eventually, what starts out as just eating the wrong foods will lead to the development of obesity, cardiometabolic risks, and heart disease."

By blocking
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Contact: Kathy Robinson
krobinso@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0565
American Medical Association
27-Apr-2006


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