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The Correlation Between BMI & Heart Disease Explained

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

Although BMI is not a perfect indicator of health, it does give us some indication of your overall heart health. Continue to read below to learn more.

Body Mass Index, or BMI, shows an approximation of your weight category (underweight, normal weight, overweight). Although not a perfect indicator of health, it should not be dismissed entirely. In fact, it is well known that BMI is correlated with heart disease risk. Injured heart muscle cells release an enzyme called troponin T. Doctors measure this in the blood when someone is suspected of having a heart attack. Now new, highly sensitive lab tests can measure troponin at much lower levels.

This development enabled Johns Hopkins researchers to measure the troponin levels as well as body mass index (BMI) in more than 9,500 adults, ages 53 to 73, who were free of heart disease.

They found that higher BMI was strongly linked to higher troponin levels. Over 12 years, those who were the most obese (BMI of 30 or higher) developed the most heart failure. So did those who had the highest levels of troponin. And those who were both the most obese and had high troponin levels were nine times more likely to develop heart failure than those who had normal weight and undetectable troponin, the researchers reported in a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure. Even being somewhat overweight put people at higher risk, says Ndumele, the study’s lead investigator. And the more extra weight, the more risk, a connection that was very clear for the obese and very obese.

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