Treat The Symptoms Or The Cause?

Heart Failure causes more damage than you think
Heart Failure causes more damage than you think (Photo credit: Novartis AG)

This article was a good reminder that we’re not the only profession struggling with whether harm-reduction should be the de facto treatment. However, it’s worth noting that the statement here (“cut in half”) provides considerably more information than most addicts get.


A huge new study out today in The Lancet shows that reducing three key factors linked to obesity – high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol – could cut heart disease in obese people by half. . . .

The team suggests that controlling these three factors could have a huge impact on the risk of heart disease and stroke that obesity poses: “Our results show that the harmful effects of overweight and obesity on heart disease and stroke partly occur by increasing blood pressure, serum cholesterol and blood glucose,” said senior author Goodarz Danaei in a statement. “Therefore, if we control these risk factors, for example through better diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, we can prevent some of the harmful effects of overweight and obesity.”

Some, but not all. The problem with this logic is that treating the symptoms of obesity, rather than the cause, only works in part. These risk factors – high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar – are part of the metabolic syndrome, which is well known to be a byproduct of obesity and to increase considerably one’s heart, stroke, and mortality risk. Therefore, zeroing in on these three issues by themselves is a bit like band-aiding the problem, rather than getting to its cause – obesity. The authors even say that treating overweight people is more effective than treating obese individuals, who “also benefit from interventions on mediators but will continue to have significantly raised risk.” There are certainly other variables that account for the remainder of the increased heart and stroke risk.

via Cutting Heart Risk From Obesity: Treat The Symptoms Or The Cause? – Forbes.