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Reduce obesity and blood pressure to prevent heart-related ailments

Category: General Health

An international research team consisting of members from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass., has found that taking regular cholesterol tests to monitor and control blood pressure may cut the risk of heart-related diseases in half. Published in The Lancet, the report details the threat of heart disease and stroke from high blood pressure in obese individuals.

According to the American Heart Association, obesity generates a high risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other coronary afflictions. An estimated 60 to 70 percent of the U.S. population is overweight, leading to heart disease and stroke being the foremost causes of death in the country. High blood pressure, additionally, can result in both of these ailments.

The findings gathered from the study show that high blood pressure posed the greatest risk of the three conditions, responsible for increases of 65 percent in the risk of stroke and 31 percent in heart disease.

"Our results show that the harmful effects of overweight and obesity on heart disease and stroke partly occur by increasing blood pressure, serum cholesterol and blood glucose. Therefore, if we control these risk factors, for example through better diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, we can prevent some of the harmful effects of overweight and obesity," affirmed Goodarz Danaei, Sc.D., assistant professor of global health at HSPH and senior author of the study.

Reducing risk of heart disease and stroke
Blood testing and lab tests can help determine cholesterol levels and diagnose high blood pressure, but measures can be taken beforehand to fight against these conditions. The AHA suggested changes in diet and lifestyle may reduce the risk of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. Participating in about six hours of aerobic activity per week can strengthen the heart vessels and decrease cholesterol and plaque buildup in arteries.

"Controlling hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes will be an essential but partial and temporary response to the obesity epidemic. As we use these effective tools, we need to find creative approaches that can curb and reverse the global obesity epidemic," concluded co-author and professor of global environmental health Majid Ezzati, Ph.D.

With almost three-quarters of Americans considered obese, the results from this study can be used by doctors to better treat their patients and improve the standing of their health.

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