Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

Sex Differences in Adiposity and Future HF Risk

By Satyam Sarma, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Sarma Headshot

Female sex and obesity are important risk factors for the development of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). Women in particular are more impacted by the influence of obesity on future heart failure risk than men. The goal of our study, presented at the AHA, was to investigate whether the effects of adiposity on cardiovascular morphology differed by sex. We studied healthy, non-obese, middle-aged individuals to avoid potential confounding effects from the presence of obesity and its associated comorbid conditions. Our results demonstrated that women with higher levels of adiposity had lower aerobic fitness, impaired cardiac relaxation, increased left ventricular stiffness, and increased vascular stiffness. There were no relationships between adiposity and abnormalities in cardiac and vascular function in men. These findings suggest that women with higher body fat may be more susceptible to developing HFpEF. We believe that elucidating the pathways linking metabolic health and cardiovascular remodeling ultimately may yield insights helpful in reducing the risk of incident HFpEF.

“Our results demonstrated that women with higher levels of adiposity had lower aerobic fitness, impaired cardiac relaxation, increased left ventricular stiffness, and increased vascular stiffness. There were no relationships between adiposity and abnormalities in cardiac and vascular function in men.”

Satyam Sarma, M.D.

Read more articles from our Physician Update AHA Edition.