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Overweight and obesity enlarges teenagers' hearts

(BETHESDA, MD) The effects of excess weight on heart health can be seen even in adolescents, with abnormal enlargement and impaired pumping function evident in subjects by age 20, according to a new study in the June 6, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Heart damage starts very early in the natural history of obesity. We need to work on our young people, to prevent catastrophic effects later on," said Giovanni de Simone, M.D., F.A.C.C. from the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, New York and the Federico II University Hospital School of Medicine in Naples, Italy.

The Strong Heart study (SHS) is a longitudinal study of cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease that enrolled 4,549 people in American Indian communities in Arizona, Oklahoma, and North and South Dakota. This analysis included data from examinations of 460 participants age 14 to 20 years (245 girls and 215 boys). The researchers used ultrasound and other methods to measure the size, shape and pumping function of the teenagers' hearts.

The left ventricles of the hearts of both overweight and obese teenagers were larger and heavier than those of normal weight participants; but the obese teenagers also showed signs of impaired heart function. The changes were not entirely explained by changes by high blood pressure.

"Our findings demonstrate that, even among adolescents at a mean age under 18, severity of abnormality in body build also parallels early cardiac changes, including high prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy and increased hemodynamic load, paralleling previous findings and suggesting that increased left ventricular mass occurs to sustain the increased cardiac workload," the study authors wrote.

"The main findings are that, when obesity is present, something happens in our hearts to increase its size and wall thickness, which cannot be understood by measu
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
301-581-3476
American College of Cardiology
2-Jun-2006


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