Obesity as a factor in cardiac deaths tripled over 20 years


The number of U.S. adults who died of heart disease and whose death record cited obesity as a contributing factor was three times greater in 2020 than in 1999, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The finding came from analysis of death certificates in a database maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 281,135 deaths from heart disease linked to obesity in that time range, the researchers said, and the death rate tripled from 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 6.6 deaths per 100,000.

The increase in obesity-related deaths contrasted with a steady decline (nearly 18 percent) in heart disease deaths overall from 1999 to 2020.

The mortality rate from heart disease related to obesity was higher among the Black population than among any other racial group. Overall, the deaths also were more common among men than women, although Black women had a slightly higher mortality rate than Black men.

Obesity, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, affects about 115 million people in the United States – about 42 percent of adults and 20 percent of children, according to the CDC.

The study noted that the adult percentage has risen by nearly 10 percent in the past decade. Medical experts say obesity can lead to heart disease in several ways, including sparking a rise in blood pressure, causing a spike in bad cholesterol and a lowering of good cholesterol levels, increasing the chance of developing diabetes and leading to a buildup of fatty material in arteries.

The researchers found that ischemic heart disease (narrowed arteries) and high blood pressure were the most common causes of obesity-related heart disease deaths in the two decades they tracked.



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