Posted on Jul 30, 2018, 8 p.m.
Being overweight may cause higher blood pressure and changes to heart structure even in younger adults. New genetic analysis was used to assess if weight directly causes higher blood pressure and changes heart structure, as published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Researchers investigated whether higher BMI resulted in adverse effects on the cardiovascular system within younger adults triangulating findings from 3 different types of genetic analysis to find evidence of BMI causing specific differences in cardiovascular measurements; with results supporting efforts to reduce BMI to a healthy range at younger ages to prevent heart disease later in life.
Data used was collected from several thousand healthy 17-21 year olds who participated in the ongoing Children of the 90s study. Findings suggest that higher BMI caused higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as enlargement of the left ventricle.
Thickening of vessel walls is considered to be a marker of atherosclerosis. Researchers suggest their findings show high BMIs cause changes in the heart structure of young adults that may precede changes in blood vessels. At this age of population provided a natural experiment analogous to a randomized trial to compare differences in outcome with differences in BMI, without relationship being skewed by other behavioral and lifestyle factors.
Observational studies such as this can only suggest associations between risk factors and lifestyle behaviors with heart disease, and are not able to prove cause and effect. Most participants in the study were caucasian limiting findings to other ethnic groups.
Researchers plan to further investigate relationships between BMI and other possible disease mechanisms including abundance and diversity of gut microbes; and cardiac structure and function in a population in their 70s with BMI.
Materials provided by American Heart Association.
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Kaitlin H. Wade et ao. Assessing the Causal Role of Body Mass Index on Cardiovascular Health in Young Adults Mendelian Randomization and Recall-by-Genotype Analyses. Circulation, 2018 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.033278