According to Healio, there is now another health-related issue that can cause more hospitalization and worse quality of life (QOL) in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH): obesity. In the abstract, published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, researchers explain that:
Obesity is associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), but its impact on outcomes such as health-related quality of life (HRQoL), hospitalizations and survival is not well understood. [To] assess the effect of obesity on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), hospitalizations and survival in patients with PAH[, we] performed a cohort study of adults with PAH from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association Registry, a prospective multicenter registry.
Eventually, researchers determined that patients who were overweight or obese were associated with worse overall outcomes than those who were not.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers.
Typically, obesity is measured through the Body Mass Index (BMI). Those with a BMI from 25.0 – 29.9 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI over 30 are considered obese. In this study, researchers wanted to understand the correlation between obesity and PAH.
Altogether, 767 participants enrolled in the study. 75% (575 participants) were female. 68% (522 participants) were non-Hispanic whites. Finally, the mean age of participants was 57 years old. 40% (307 participants) had obesity, while 33% (253 participants) were overweight. Researchers determined that those who were obese were more likely to have idiopathic PAH, or PAH with no known cause. Additionally, those who were overweight or obese experienced worse QOL and more hospitalization.
However, in what some researchers call the obesity paradox, individuals who are overweight or obese are less likely to have transplant-related issues, or to die from transplants. Thus, being obese correlates to better overall transplant-free survival.
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)
Most commonly caused by a BMPR2 gene mutation, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive form of high blood pressure in the lungs that spurs the thickening or hardening of pulmonary arteries. In cases of familial PAH, the condition is inherited; this remains true for up to 15-20% of diagnoses. In other cases, PAH may result from drug use, HIV, lung or liver diseases, and sickle cell disease. An estimated 500-1,000 new PAH cases are diagnosed each year in the United States and Europe. Females more frequently have PAH than males, and the condition typically affects those between ages 30 and 60. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Exercise intolerance
- Ankle and leg swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Lips turning blue