Obesity and Non-Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease

Katherine F. Maloney, Candace H. Schoppe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Obesity is an increasing epidemic in the United States, with approximately 70% of Americans falling into either the overweight or obese categories. There also has been a global increase in the number of obese individuals worldwide, and an estimated one in ten of the world's adult population are overweight or obese. The number of overweight and obese children also has greatly increased, which likely will predispose them to earlier onset of obesity-related morbidity and mortality and further contribute to the burden obesity places on society. Obesity is a preventable and treatable cause of many systemic diseases affecting the heart, liver, lungs, endocrine, and musculoskeletal systems. Though it affects almost all organ systems, this state of over-nutrition induces abnormalities that culminate in changes in hemodynamics, heart structure, cardiac myocyte metabolism, and coronary artery disease that often lead to consequences such as systemic and pulmonary hypertension, obesity cardiomyopathy, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and/or sudden cardiac death. Despite the prevalence of obesity in our current society, the exact effects on health are still being elucidated and, interestingly, there are some data to suggest certain populations of obese individuals may have less cardiovascular morbidity than their non-obese counterparts. Forensic pathologists should be aware of the effects of obesity, particularly on the cardiovascular system, as the number of these decedents seen at forensic autopsy increases. This review describes the non-atherosclerotic effects of obesity on the cardiovascular system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-12
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Forensic Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Forensic pathology
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Obesity cardiomyopathy
  • Sudden cardiac death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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