Artham, Surya M.; Lavie, Carl J.; Milani, Richard V.; Ventura, Hector O.
Obesity prevalence has reached epidemic proportions and is independently associated with numerous cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cancers, sleep apnea, and other major CVDs. Obesity has significant negative impact on CVD, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and arrhythmias via its maladaptive effects on individual CVD risk factors and cardiac structure and function. Despite this negative association between obesity and the incidence and prevalence of CVD, many studies have demonstrated that obese patients with established CVD might have better short- and long-term prognosis, suggesting an "obesity paradox.'' This intriguing phenomenon has been well documented in populations with heart failure, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. This review summarizes the adverse effects of obesity on individual CVD risk factors; its role in the genesis of CVDs, including heart failure, coronary heart disease, and hypertension; and the obesity paradox observed in these populations and the potential underlying mechanisms behind this puzzling phenomenon and concludes with a discussion on the potential benefits of weight reduction.