Can being obese save your life? Maybe...if you're undergoing heart surgery.
A study funded by the British Heart Foundation found that people who were overweight or obese were more likely to survive heart surgery than those of normal weight. Patients who were underweight had the highest risk of dying.
Researchers at the University of Leicester studied data on more than 400,000 adults who had undergone cardiac surgery between April 2002 and March 2013.
Patients were divided into six groups depending on their body mass index: underweight (BMI under 18.5), normal weight (BMI 18.5-25), overweight (BMI 25-30), obese class I (BMI 30-35), obese class II (BMI 35-40), and obese class III (BMI over 40).
Results found that patients of normal weight were almost twice as likely to die in the hospital following heart surgery as those who were overweight or obese— 4.4 percent compared to 2.8 percent who were overweight and 2.7 percent who were obese. However, 8.5 percent of those who were underweight died.
"Obesity is a reason often given for not offering patients surgery," said study author Gavin Murphy.
"With this study, we show that, for cardiac patients at least, being obese should not be a reason to turn patients away from surgery," he said.
"These results also raise questions as to whether there may be attributes of obesity that directly protect patients," Murphy concluded.
The study was published in the journal Circulation.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), where an artery or vein is grafted to a blocked coronary artery, is the most common type of heart surgery. Approximately 500,000 surgeries are performed each year.
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