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Guidelines on Overweight and Obesity: Electronic Textbook
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Other Risk Factors

Other risk factors deserve special consideration for their relation to obesity. When these factors are present, patients can be considered to have incremental absolute risk above that estimated from the preceding risk factors. Quantitative risk contributions are not available for these risk factors, but their presence heightens the need for weight reduction in obese persons.

Physical inactivity

A lack of physical activity imparts an increased risk for both CVD and type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity enhances the severity of other risk factors, but it also has been shown to be an "independent" risk factor for all-cause mortality or CVD mortality (411, 548).  Although physical inactivity is not listed as a risk factor that modifies the intensity of therapy required for elevated cholesterol or blood pressure, increased physical activity is indicated for the management of these conditions (see the ATP II and JNC VI). Increased physical activity is especially needed in obese patients because it promotes weight reduction and favorably modifies obesity-associated risk factors. Conversely, the presence of physical inactivity in an obese person warrants intensified efforts to remove excess body weight, because physical inactivity and obesity both heighten disease risks.

High triglycerides

Obesity is commonly accompanied by elevated serum triglycerides. The relationship between high triglycerides and CHD is complex. Triglyceride-rich lipoproteins may be directly atherogenic. In addition, elevated serum triglycerides are the most common manifestation of the atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype (high triglycerides, small LDL particles, and low HDL-cholesterol levels) (142, 549).  Moreover, in the presence of obesity, high serum triglycerides are commonly associated with a clustering of metabolic risk factors known as the metabolic syndrome (atherogenic lipoprotein phenotype, hypertension, insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, and prothrombotic states). Thus, in obese patients, elevated serum triglycerides are a marker for increased cardiovascular risk. According to current guidelines (ATP II and JNC VI), the presence of high triglycerides does not modify the intensity of cholesterol or blood pressure lowering therapy. Their presence in obese patients, however, calls for an intensified effort to achieve weight reduction and increase physical activity. Both will reduce the various risk factors characteristic of the metabolic syndrome, and thus should reduce overall cardiovascular risk as well as decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes.

According to the ATP II guidelines (142), triglyceride levels are classified as follows:

Category Serum Triglyceride Levels
Normal triglycerides Less than 200 mg/dL
Borderline-high triglycerides 200 to 400 mg/dL
High triglycerides 400 to 1,000 mg/dL
Very high triglycerides Greater than 1,000 mg/dL

Patients with very high triglycerides are at increased risk for acute pancreatitis and must undergo immediate triglyceride lowering therapy.

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