Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Obesity and the heart

We are all aware that truncal obesity, is related to the metabolic syndrome (the syndrome of hypertension, abdominal obesity, low HDL-C, high triglycerides, and insulin resistance), a syndrome associated with diabetes and heart disease. We have written about that earlier.

However, in the just concluded Experimental Biology 2006 conference in San Francisco, researchers from University of Iowa reported that they have studied epicardial fat cells (fat cells on the surface of the heart, surrounding the heart arteries) and found that these fat cells (adipocytes) are busy producing cytokines, and factors inducing angiogenesis (probably some form of vascular endothelial growth factors).

We always thought that fat cells are lazy cells just there to store fat, be it in the abdomen or surrounding the heart. This piece of research shows again that this is not so. Don't view these adipocytes as dormant. They are a danger to our health. High levels of cytokines, is associated with more vulnerable plaques, which causes heart attacks or the acute coronary syndrome. Small vessel angiogenesis, an attempt by the fat cells to form more small vessels to bypass the heart artery blockage, actually cause the already vulnerable plaque to rupture, triggering heart attacks.

I suppose the message remains much the same. Obesity around the abdomen and also adipocytes around the heart itself is bad for us and we should do our utmost to rid ourselves of these life threatening fat cells.

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