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Life Sci. 1992;51(20):1557-69.

Cardiovascular abnormalities associated with human and rodent obesity.

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Department of Physiology, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Downers Grove, IL 50515.


Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, a direct link between these two states is difficult to establish, since obesity frequently occurs with other disease states such as diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Clinical studies have clearly shown that uncorrected obesity is associated with cardiac hypertrophy and compromised ventricular function. A number of rodent models of obesity have been studied in terms of cardiovascular adaptations. Cardiac function of the obese Zucker rat appears to be normal at a younger age. Only after several months is depression in cardiac function discernable. These animals are mildly hypertensive, but do not exhibit the characteristic increase in cardiac output associated with human obesity. A unique characteristic of JCR:LA-cp rat is that they develop atherosclerotic and myocardial lesions. Hearts from these animals will maintain normal function when perfused with physiological levels of calcium. At higher calcium concentrations, however, mechanical function becomes impaired. Dietary-induced obese rats exhibit many of the hemodynamic alterations associated with human obesity, but there is no evidence to-date that these animals will develop severe cardiac depression. Short-term weight reduction apparently has beneficial cardiovascular effects, but weight cycling may be harmful. Given the widespread occurrence of obesity, further studies are warranted to characterize the cardiac manifestations of this condition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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