Weight is only one measurement of health: Half of middle-aged people who are slim could still have a heart attack
02/15/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

The American Heart Association states that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). More than 36 percent of the United States' adult population are diagnosed with obesity, but a recent study found that even people who are slim have the same risk of hyperlipidemia as those who smoke and are overweight or obese.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), found that slim people, or people who don't easily gain weight, are often unaware of the amounts of saturated and trans fat they consume. Eating too much of foods that contain those types of fats usually end up having high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), or bad cholesterol. These LDL-Cs were discovered by researchers from the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC in its Spanish form) to cause arteries to harden, a process which is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, in turn, usually leads to cardiovascular diseases.

Approximately 4,184 middle-aged (40 to 54 years old) participants were selected from the Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis (PESA) study, 50.3 percent of which were women. Another group inclusive of 740 people had optimal CVRFs. These selected individuals had no conventional cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs). Another factor of the selection process included the absence of smoking habits and untreated blood pressure. Results from the tests showed that atherosclerosis, plaque, or coronary artery calcification, was found in 49.7 percent of the CVRF-free participants.


The absence of cardiovascular risk factors is usually associated with a lower risk of negative cardiovascular events, but CVRF-free individuals still experience heart attacks and strokes due to the amount of calcification within their arteries and plaque buildups. In this case, weight is only one determinant of health, but dietary habits are another. According to professor Mirela Delibegovic from the University of Aberdeen Institute of Medical Sciences, all human beings have atherosclerosis, but not all are severe enough to cause symptoms and other diseases. Eating foods that are high in sugar and bad fats contributes to more fatty streaks and plaque buildup inside the arteries, and further accelerates the process by which an individual becomes overweight and obese, and develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

In order to avoid the aggravation of atherosclerosis, people can make changes to their lifestyles towards the better.

  • Eat foods that are a benefit to your heart – You can still eat fats, but choose the plant-based ones such as olive and coconut oils, and oils from peanuts and other whole foods. Incorporate omega-3-rich foods, fibrous foods, and whey protein to your daily food consumption.
  • Be active and exercise regularly – Exercising regularly makes you strong both physically and physiologically. Pushing your heart to work more on a regular basis increases heart strength and promotes proper blood circulation throughout your body, which is a benefit to your body's organs (including the brain).
  • Quit your bad habits like excessive alcohol consumption and smoking – Excessive alcohol consumption is known to cause liver disorders, and smoking does nothing to help your body at all. Resveratrol, found in red wine, is good for the heart, but make sure to consume red wine in moderation and responsibly.
  • Lose unnecessary weight – Not only will you look physically good, but your body will also thank you for it. Being fat is not just a detriment to aesthetics, but it also means that you have bad fats surrounding your body's organs, which causes dysfunction and organ failure.

It is also advisable to have regular trips to your healthcare professional in order for him or her to help you identify the aspects of your health that need attention.

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