Obesity phenotypes and their paradoxical association with cardiovascular diseases
The pro-inflammatory state of the visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is supposed to accelerate cardiovascular (CV) and metabolic diseases in obese subjects. Some studies have recently reported an improved CV prognosis in certain obese and overweight patients as compared with leaner ones. This phenomenon, known as the "obesity paradox" (OP), has been described in many chronic diseases. This narrative review is based on the material searched for and obtained via PubMed and Web of Science up to May 2017. The search terms we used were: "obesity, paradox, adipose tissue" in combination with "cardiovascular, coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias". Using the current Body Mass Index (BMI)-based obesity definition, individuals with different clinical and biochemical characteristics are gathered together in the same category. Emerging evidence point to the existence of many "Obesity phenotypes" with different association with CV risk, accordingly to physical and life-style features. In this narrative review, we discussed if obesity phenotypes may be associated with a different CV risk, potentially explaining the OP. As a globally accepted definition of obesity is still lacking, we emphasized the need of a new approach, which should consider the heterogeneity of obesity. Better defining "obesities" and related CV risk is critical to markedly improve the classical BMI-based definition of obesity.