Obesity and cardiovascular disease

Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2002 Nov;4(6):448-53. doi: 10.1007/s11883-002-0049-8.


Obesity is a major contributor to the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the developed world, and yet has only recently been afforded the same level of attention as other risk factors of coronary artery disease. Obesity is a chronic metabolic disorder associated with cardiovascular disease and increased morbidity and mortality. It is apparent that a variety of adaptations/alterations in cardiac structure and function occur as excessive adipose tissue accumulates, even in the absence of comorbidities. Shifts toward a less physically demanding lifestyle are observed today throughout different populations, and this scourge associated with obesity implicates a corresponding increase in the number of individuals afflicted with the metabolic syndrome, which defines the obese patient as being "at risk." Adipose tissue is not simply a passive storehouse for fat, but an endocrine organ that is capable of synthesizing and releasing into the bloodstream a variety of molecules that may impact unfavorably the risk factor profile of a patient. Indeed, obesity may affect atherosclerosis through unrecognized variables and risk factors for coronary artery disease such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, glucose intolerance, inflammatory markers, and the prothrombotic state. By favorably modifying lipids, decreasing blood pressure, and decreasing levels of glycemia, proinflammatory cytokines, and adhesion molecules, weight loss may prevent the progression of atherosclerosis or the occurrence of acute coronary syndrome events in the obese high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Coronary Disease / surgery
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Myocardial Revascularization
  • Obesity / complications*