Impact of obesity and the obesity paradox on prevalence and prognosis in heart failure

JACC Heart Fail. 2013 Apr;1(2):93-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jchf.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Apr 1.


Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and worldwide. Considering the adverse effects of obesity on left ventricular (LV) structure, diastolic and systolic function, and other risk factors for heart failure (HF), including hypertension and coronary heart disease, HF incidence and prevalence, not surprisingly, is markedly increased in obese patients. Nevertheless, as with most other cardiovascular diseases, numerous studies have documented an obesity paradox, in which overweight and obese patients, defined by body mass index, percent body fat, or central obesity, demonstrate a better prognosis compared with lean or underweight HF patients. This review will describe the data on obesity in the context of cardiopulmonary exercise testing in HF. Additionally, the implications of obesity on LV assist devices and heart transplantation are reviewed. Finally, despite the obesity paradox, we address the current state of weight reduction in HF.

Keywords: heart failure; obesity; obesity paradox; overweight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart Failure / complications*
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology*
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Ventricular Function, Left
  • Weight Loss