305. Guidelines: 2021 ESC Cardiovascular Prevention – Question #27 with Dr. Kim Williams

The following question refers to Section 4.3 of the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines. The question is asked by CardioNerds Academy Intern Dr. Maryam Barkhordarian, answered first by medicine resident CardioNerds Academy House Chief Dr. Ahmed Ghoneem, and then by expert faculty Dr. Kim Williams.

Dr. Williams is Chief of the Division of Cardiology and is Professor of Medicine and Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center. He has served as President of ASNC, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC, 2008-2010), and President of the American College of Cardiology (ACC, 2015-2016).

The CardioNerds Decipher The Guidelines Series for the 2021 ESC CV Prevention Guidelines represents a collaboration with the ACC Prevention of CVD Section, the National Lipid Association, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

Enjoy this Circulation 2022 Paths to Discovery article to learn about the CardioNerds story, mission, and values.

Mr. O is a 48-year-old man with a past medical history significant for obesity (BMI is 42kg/m2), hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypercholesterolemia. His calculated ASCVD risk score today is 18.8%. You counsel him on the importance of weight loss in the context of CVD risk reduction. Which of the following weight loss recommendations is appropriate?


Maintaining a weight loss of at least 25% from baseline is required to influence blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycemic control. 


Hypocaloric diets lead to short term weight loss, but a healthy diet should be maintained over time to reduce CVD risk.


Liraglutide can be used to induce weight loss, as an alternative to diet and exercise.


Bariatric surgery is effective for weight loss but has no ASCVD risk reduction benefit.


The correct answer is B. Energy restriction is the cornerstone of management of obesity. All the different types of hypocaloric diets achieve similar short-term weight loss, but these effects tend to diminish by 12 months. It is a class I recommendation to maintain a healthy diet over time to achieve CVD risk reduction. The Mediterranean diet is an example of a diet that can have persistent CV benefit beyond the 12 months.

Choice A is incorrect because maintaining even a moderate weight loss of 5 – 10% from baseline has favorable effects on risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycemic control, as well as on premature all-cause mortality.

Choice C is incorrect because medications approved as aids to weight loss (such as liraglutide, orlistat and naltrexone/bupropion) may be used in addition to lifestyle measures to achieve weight loss and maintenance; they are not alternatives to a healthy lifestyle. Meta-analysis of medication-assisted weight loss found favorable effects on BP, glycemic control, and ASCVD mortality.

Choice D is incorrect because patients undergoing bariatric surgery had over 50% lower risks of total ASCVD and cancer mortality compared with people of similar weight who did not have surgery. Bariatric surgery should be considered for obese high-risk individuals when lifestyle change does not result in maintained weight loss (Class IIa). The ACC/AHA guidelines focused primarily on lifestyle interventions for obesity and had no specific recommendations for bariatric surgery or medication-assisted weight loss.

Main Takeaway

Weight reduction (even as low as 5-10% from baseline) and long-term maintenance of a healthy diet are recommended to improve the CVD risk profile of overweight and obese people. Medication and/or bariatric surgery may have a useful adjunctive role in some patients.

Guideline Loc.

Section 4.3.3

305. Guidelines - 2021 ESC Cardiovascular Prevention – Question #27 with Dr. Kim Williams
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