Obesity and Heart Disease – A Heavy Burden

Obesity and Heart Disease - A Heavy Burden

The American Heart Association has identified obesity as an independent risk factor for coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is defined as a buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries that can lead to diminished blood supply to the heart causing chest pain and sometimes heart attack. Obesity is also a risk factor for heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood through to meet the body's need for blood and oxygen; basically the heart cannot keep up with its workload.

There are a number of physiologic and metabolic changes associated with obesity that may contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cholesterol abnormalities
  • Hypertension
  • Sleep apnea

Studies have shown the risk of heart failure is increased approximately twofold higher in obese (BMI>30) compared to nonobese subjects. Approximately 11% of cases of heart failure in men and 14% in women can be attributed to obesity alone. At any given level of BMI, the risk of development of cardiovascular disease in both men and women is increased by more abdominal fat. Abdominal fat has a significant impact on metabolism. Abdominal fat affects blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and interferes with the body's ability to process insulin properly. If your body cannot use insulin properly you may develop Type II diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease.

There are many premature deaths due to complications from being overweight. Extra weight is a strong warning that needs to be taken seriously. Living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good nutrition, weight management, and getting plenty of physical activity can play a big role in avoiding cardiovascular disease. A slow and steady approach is the best way to achieve long-term weight loss. So, get started today and make lifestyle changes that last!

Work towards a happy and healthy heart!