Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, regardless of whether or not other risk factors are present, researchers have said.
It was previously believed that obesity put people at greater risk of heart disease by contributing to the development of recognised factors, such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
However, a recent study suggests that fatty tissue produces a substance that causes inflammation in the body. This could play a significant role in deaths from heart disease, alongside other more recognised 'direct' risk factors.
More than 6,000 men took part in the study at Glasgow University's BHF Cardiovascular Research Centre.
The results have been published in the journal Heart.
Cathy Ross, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'We've known for some time that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of heart disease. But this study now strengthens the argument that obesity - in its own right - increases the risk of dying from a heart attack, irrespective of other risk factors.
'There is already strong evidence to show that inflammation increases the risk of death from heart disease. This study suggests that fatty 'adipose' tissue releases inflammatory substances in the body, which could be contributing to fatal cardiac events.'