High heart risk and obesity lead to greater health events and costs

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Key Takeaways

Adults living with both obesity and high cardiovascular risk experience a higher number of cardiovascular events, a higher risk of premature death, and significantly increased healthcare costs.

The study analyzed over 10 years of healthcare data from more than 420,000 adults in North-West London.

Findings illustrate the immense impact of these conditions on individuals, population health, and broader healthcare systems.

Management through improving diet, quitting smoking, and effectively controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels can prevent and manage these risks, improving health and economic productivity.

Study Details

The study, presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Dublin, Ireland, was led by Dr. Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard from Lane Clark & Peacock, London, in collaboration with colleagues from Novo Nordisk, Denmark.

They used the Discover database, which holds data on 2.8 million patients from linked primary and secondary care records in North-West London.


The researchers found that between 2015 and 2019, adults at high cardiovascular risk had a much higher incidence of stroke, heart attack, major adverse cardiovascular events, and acute heart failure events than any of the individual obesity groups.

For instance, these adults were five times as likely to experience a stroke as those with class III obesity, and five times as likely to have a major adverse cardiovascular event than those with class I obesity.

The frequency of all cardiovascular events increased with each successive obesity class.

Cardiovascular-related mortality contributed to over a quarter (27%) of overall deaths in the high-cardiovascular-risk group but only around a fifth (17%–20%) of total deaths in the obesity groups.

Moreover, death from any cause was four times higher in the high cardiovascular risk group compared with the class I obesity group, and more than double that of class III obesity.

Healthcare Costs

The study also found that the annual health care costs for an individual at high cardiovascular risk were more than twice that of an individual with class I or class II obesity (£2,856 vs. £1,182 and £1,390, respectively) and 75% higher than an individual living with class III obesity.

Inpatient admissions and the use of prescription drugs were the main drivers of healthcare costs in all groups.

Implications and Limitations

While the study was observational and could not prove causation, the findings underline the importance of targeted efforts to more effectively manage chronic diseases and prevent complications.

Such interventions could materially help reduce demand for acute health care services and lead to improved health and prosperity in communities.

Limitations of the study include the possibility of selection bias and the influence of race and ethnicity on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and flu and COVID vaccines may increase heart disease risk.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about How vitamin K helps protect the heart, reduce blood clots and death risk and results showing that herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm.

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