An alarming research shows that obese individuals who have no signs of cardiovascular disease show a much higher prevalence of early plaque buildup in the arteries compared to healthy individuals.

“Obese individuals who are considered 'healthy' because they do not currently have heart disease risk factors should not be assumed healthy by their doctors,” explained Yoosoo Chang, a professor at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital Total Healthcare Center for Cohort Studies in Seoul, Korea.

The idea of “healthy” obese - individuals whose body weight puts them in the obese category but they show no signs of cardiovascular disease - is controversial.

The new study challenges this idea. Researchers recommend all obese individuals be counselled about their risks for cardiovascular disease and receive tips for achieving a healthy weight.

“Our research shows that the presence of obesity is enough to increase a person's risk of future heart disease and that the disease may already be starting to form in their body,” Chang noted.

It is important that these people learn this while they still have time to change their diet and exercise habits to prevent a future cardiovascular event, he advised.

Researchers in this study looked at 14,828 metabolically healthy adults aged 30 to 59 years who had no known cardiovascular disease.

Based on coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores, obese individuals were found to have a much higher prevalence of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis, or early-stage plaque buildup in the arteries than their normal weight counterparts.

Atherosclerosis, if not managed, can lead to heart attack and sudden cardiac death, among other cardiovascular conditions, said the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


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