Men with obese wives at higher risk of cardiovascular disease: study

October 11, 2020 - 18:24

TEHRAN – The results of a 16-year study at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran showed that men whose wives were obese or overweight had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research entitled “Spousal metabolic risk factors and future cardiovascular events: A prospective cohort study” was conducted by Iranian researchers and published in the Atherosclerosis journal.

Farzad Hadaegh, the lead researcher of the study, said that couples share socioeconomic status, dietary patterns, and other environmental and lifestyle factors, but are genetically unrelated.

The results of this study emphasize the role of environmental factors, especially lifestyle behaviors of family members in the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and this may help to identify early at-risk individuals in the community and family to implement prevention programs, he explained.

The study assesses whether the individuals’ risk of developing CVD was affected by the major metabolic risk factors in their spouses.

The results of this large prospective cohort provide evidence that having an overweight or obese spouse elevates men's risk of developing CVD even beyond the effect of the men's own risk factors. Spousal risk factors might be incorporated into the clinical guidelines and risk assessment tools to improve their utility for identifying individuals at increased risk for CVD.

A series of studies through the Golestan Cohort Study was conducted in the eastern portion of the Caspian Sea littoral in the 1970s, but they were not conclusive in explaining the very high rates. However, they pointed to several factors, including, a diet deficient in fruits and vegetables; low socioeconomic status; thermal injury from consumption of very hot tea; and carcinogen exposure from lifestyle factors including opium consumption.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, and impose a major economic burden upon societies. More than 70 percent of CVD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2015, Iran was among the countries with the highest prevalence of CVD. CVDs are considered to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Many studies have reported the association of lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, unhealthy diet, low physical activity, and obesity with CVD events.

300,000 Iranians die of NCDs annually

In February 2019, the health ministry announced that some 300,000 Iranians die of NCDs annually in Iran, which means that one-fourth of the country’s population (standing at 80 million) are overweight or obese which also results in developing NCDs.

Diabetes, non-communicable diseases, is a serious threat to people’s health and is the fifth leading cause of death in the country. Diabetes prevalence is 10 percent in Iran and is high among people aging 50 or more.

Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints), and some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon) are common health consequences of overweight and obesity, WHO warns.

Having too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can contribute to serious health problems if it's not treated. Hyperglycemia can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

Moreover, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women aged 25 to 64 years also have high cholesterol due to overweight and obesity, consuming fast food, and insufficient physical activity.

NCDs, a global health threat

NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Each year, 15 million people die from an NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years; over 85% of these "premature" deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9million), and diabetes (1.6 million). These 4 groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths.

Tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD. Detection, screening, and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs.