Published in NJ Heart and Lung News
Body weight, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar all impact cardiovascular health. We know that. And if a person brings these measures into a healthy range, their risk of cardiovascular disease decreases. That’s simple.
But what if they bring the measures into a healthy range, then “fall off the wagon,” and go back to abnormal measurements? The risk goes up again. Still simple. But what if they repeat this cycle? Over and over again. Is their risk lower? After all, they did spend some time at healthy levels. Is it the same as if they had never done anything? Or is it, in fact, worse?
Researchers at the Catholic University of Korea, along with various other institutions, have assessed the link between cardiovascular health and fluctuations in health measurements including body weight, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. The goal of the research was to answer that question.
To do so, they used data collected from nearly 7 million people with no history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular events at the beginning of the study. Then for 7 years, from 2005 to 2012, the participants went through a series of checkups.
The answer, published in the journal Circulation : large fluctuations in any of the measurements mentioned above was directly associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
In other words, if a person continually brought their cholesterol under control, had it go well out of control, then continued this “yo-yo” pattern, they had greater risk of heart attack or stroke than if they had always had high cholesterol.
If an individual had large fluctuations in more than one of the measurements, the risk was greatly increased.
People with the highest variability across all risk factors had a 127% higher risk of death from all causes, a 43% higher risk of heart attack, and a 41% higher risk of stroke.
The new research fits findings on what is commonly referred to as the “yo-yo effect” in dieting. People who constantly lose and regain weight end up at far greater risk for cardiovascular disease than individuals who simply remain overweight.
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