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October 1987

Overweight and Sudden Death: Increased Ventricular Ectopy in Cardiopathy of Obesity

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Ochsner Clinic and Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, New Orleans.

Arch Intern Med. 1987;147(10):1725-1728. doi:10.1001/archinte.1987.00370100039008

• Obesity has been documented to be an independent risk factor for sudden death and other cardiovascular mortality. The present study was designed to monitor and quantify cardiac arrhythmias in obese subjects with and without eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy, who were matched with regard to arterial pressure, age, sex, and height with lean subjects. Prevalence of premature ventricular (but not atrial) contractions was 30 times higher in obese patients with eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy compared with lean subjects. Similarly, obese patients with left ventricular hypertrophy scored higher with regard to the classification of Lown and Wolf than those without left ventricular hypertrophy and lean subjects having the same level of arterial pressure. Patients' class in the Lown and Wolf system correlated with ventricular diastolic diameter and left ventricular mass. Thus, heart enlargement of the eccentric type as a consequence of obesity predisposes to excessive ventricular ectopy. Echocardiographic assessment and electrocardiographic monitoring allow us to identify the patients who are at highest risk of more serious arrhythmias or possibly sudden death and to subject them to the most specific preventive and therapeutic measures.

(Arch Intern Med 1987;147:1725-1728)