Overweight teens face greater risk of sudden death later in life

By Doug Bennett • Published: March 30th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Being overweight at age 18 increases the risk of sudden cardiac death for women later in life.

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Electrophysiology found that the risk of sudden cardiac death remained higher for those women who were overweight at age 18 – even if they eventually shed those extra pounds from their late teen years.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston tracked the health of more than 72,000 women from 1980 to 2012. Of that group, 454 women had suffered sudden cardiac death. It occurs within an hour of the first symptom, typically among people with no known risk factors for heart disease.

The risk of sudden cardiac death grew proportionally with body-mass index, the study found. Women with a body-mass index of 23 to 29.9 were one-third more likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those whose body-mass index was lower. The risk of cardiac death doubled for women who had a body-mass index of 30 to 35 and quadrupled for women with a body-mass index over 35.

A body-mass index of 18.5 to 25 is generally considered normal.

The risk of cardiac death remained high even after researchers adjusted for factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, exercise and other variables.

Most significantly, researchers noted that the risk of cardiac death was higher for those who were overweight at age 18 – regardless of their current weight. For young adult women, avoiding obesity is a good way to prevent sudden cardiac death later in life, they concluded.

Shedding those extra pounds can have lots of benefits for young women – and it could add years to your life.