Early obesity linked to dangerous blood clots in men

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study, researchers found that Men with a history of obesity in their late teens are, in adult life, more at risk of a blood clot (thrombus) in a leg or lung.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Gothenburg.

A thrombus in the leg or lung is known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). This is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases.

Risk increases with advancing age and, overall, 5 to 10% of the population are affected at some time during their lives. The disease is potentially fatal, but its degree of severity varies.

The current study is based on data on 1,639,838 men who enlisted for military service in Sweden in the years 1969-2005.

Their average age on enlistment was just over 18 years. These individuals were followed up using patient and cause-of-death registers.

During the follow-up period of 28 years, the team found a clear link between body mass index (BMI) and the thrombus risk.

The risk continued to rise in the two higher BMI groups, those with obesity and severe obesity, to which more than 36,000 of the study participants belonged.

In the group with obesity (BMI 30-35), the relative risk was 2.93 compared with the reference group in the study—over twice as high.

For those with severe obesity, the corresponding relative risk was 4.95, i.e. a nearly fivefold risk for blood clots in the leg or lung during the follow-up period.

The team says the association between VTE and obesity has been studied mainly in populations where BMI is measured relatively late in life.

By then, the study participants may have developed obesity-related diseases, such as certain forms of cancer, that also affect their thrombus risk.

Consequently, there’s a danger of underestimating the risk of obesity. As obesity and severe obesity become more prevalent among children and adolescents, it’s increasingly important to study the long-term risks involved.

Although the current study covers only men, the patterns and associations found are probably similar for women, in the research group’s opinion.

One author of the study is Katarina Glise Sandblad, a Ph.D. student at Sahlgrenska Academy.

The study is published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.