Even modest weight gain can harm blood vessels, study

Aug 18, 2010

Mayo Clinic researchers found that healthy young people who put on as little as 9 pounds of fat, specifically in the abdomen, are at risk for developing endothelial cell dysfunction. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and control the ability of the vessels to expand and contract.

"Endothelial dysfunction has long been associated with an increased risk for and cardiovascular events," says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic. "Gaining a few pounds in college, on a cruise, or over the holidays is considered harmless, but it can have cardiovascular implications, especially if the weight is gained in the abdomen."

For the study, which was published in this week's , Dr. Somers and his team recruited 43 healthy Mayo Clinic volunteers with a mean age of 29 years. They were tested for endothelial dysfunction by measuring the blood flow through their arm arteries. The volunteers were assigned to either gain weight or maintain their weight for eight weeks, and their blood flow was tested. The weight-gainers then lost the weight and were tested again.

Among those who gained weight in their abdomens (known as visceral fat), even though their blood pressure remained healthy, researchers found that the regulation of blood flow through their arm was impaired due to endothelial dysfunction. Once the volunteers lost the weight, the blood flow recovered. Blood flow regulation was unchanged in the weight-maintainers and was less affected among those who gained weight evenly throughout their bodies.

Dr. Somers says the study is unable to offer conclusions about whether recovery of blood flow is possible if the weight is kept on for several years. "Patients should know that having a big belly may be more harmful than simply being obese," he says. "Letting weight creep on during college or as the result of aging should not be accepted as normal.

"Physicians should know that the location of fat is important. Greater attention should be given to the circumference of a patient's waistline, not just their body mass index (BMI)." BMI is a formula that uses height and weight to estimate body fat and associated health risks.

Explore further: Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

Related Stories

Simple finger device may help predict future heart attack

Mar 26, 2009

Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, noninvasive finger sensor test is "highly predictive" of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk, according ...

Weight gain may be healthy when it comes to type 1 diabetes

Jun 07, 2008

Gaining body fat may be a good thing, at least for people with type 1 diabetes, say researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Their study, being presented at the 68th Scientific Sessions ...

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

21 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

22 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

Jul 03, 2015

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.