Background. The relation between body mass index and acute myocardial infarction was analyzed using data from a multicentric case-control study conducted in Italy between September 1988 and June 1989 within the framework of the GISSI-2 trial. Methods. Subjects were 916 patients with acute myocardial infarction and no history of cardiovascular disease and 1,106 controls hospitalized for acute conditions not related to known or suspected risk factors for ischaemic heart disease. Results. Relative to the lowest quintile of the Quetelet Index (weight/height2) the estimated risks for subsequent quintiles were 1.2 (95% confidence intervals, (CI): 0.9 to 1.6), 1.7 (95% CI: 1.2 to 2.2), 1.8 (95% CI: 1.4 to 2.4), and 2.2 (95% CI: 1.7 to 3.0) when adjustment was made for age, sex, education, and smoking habits by means of logistic regression. The association was consistent across strata of sex, education, and smoking status, but not age. The estimated risk for subjects in the fifth quintile of the Quetelet Index relative to those in the first was 4.1 under 55 years of age, but only 1.7 between 55 and 64 years and 1.5 above age 65. Conclusion. The relation between body mass and myocardial infarction was explained, at least in part, by higher serum cholesterol levels and the prevalence of diabetes and hypertension among fatter subjects. This does not, however, totally eclipse a possible causal relation between body mass and risk of myocardial infarction, since these conditions are a consequence, rather than a confounder, of overweight.
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