Being overweight or obese is the common factor in a third of heart disease deaths, according to a study.
Research by The Netherlands Heart Foundation, involving 20,000 men and women aged 20 to 65, also shows excess weight is to blame for one in seven cases of non-fatal heart disease.
Findings indicate that being overweight proves a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease than previously thought.
The study was based on BMI measurements, and showed that patients with defined as obese by their BMI levels were four times more likely to die of heart disease than those of normal weight.
Earlier studies had suggested that obesity roughly doubled the chances of dying from heart disease.
The difference may be because many previous studies relied on inaccurate self-reported measurements of height, weight and girth, said the Dutch scientists.
Chief investigator Dr Ineke van Dis explained: “What this study shows is the substantial effect which being overweight and obesity have on cardiovascular disease, whether fatal or non-fatal. In the near future, the impact of obesity on the burden of heart disease will be even greater.”
The study is published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.