Elevated BMI may not increase risk of death among men with heart attack or stroke

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“This study does not eliminate a small amount of risk for being overweight or obese,” said author Howard D. Sesso, Sc.D., M.P.H., of BWH. “However, it does tell physicians that BMI may not have a prominent role in predicting the future risk of death among men who may have already experienced the cardiovascular complications of obesity by having a heart attack or stroke.”

In this study, researchers examined 5,010 middle-aged and older men from the Physicians’ Health Study with approximately five years of follow-up data. Those analyzed included men who had a self-reported history of heart attack or stroke. Four BMI categories were used that ranged from less than 22.0 kg/m 2 (a healthy weight) to 28.0 kg/m 2 or greater (overweight and obese). Researchers found that men who already had a heart attack or stroke with a BMI of 28 kg/m 2 or greater did not have a significantly greater risk of overall death or death from cardiovascular disease.

According to Sesso, “For those men who have already suffered from a heart attack or stroke, researchers must identify stronger risk factors than body mass index for mortality to ensure that an optimal secondary prevention strategy is used.”