In the opinion of many medical professionals, obesity and heart disease are only indirectly related. The major risk factors for heart disease (such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and even arteriosclerosis) were attributed to the degree of obesity. Despite obesity being a contributing factor to many of these conditions, studies now indicate a more direct link between obesity and heart disease.
For example, today’s modern anaesthetics can cause health problems such as increased blood pressure after surgery and weight gain. Combining this with the fact that most obese people are sedentary can quickly lead to heart and lung problems in people with obesity.
How does obesity cause coronary heart disease?
the answer is that excess body fat increases the production of cholesterol (fat soluble material) and lipoproteins (particles that carry lipids in the blood). these substances subsequently lead to fatty deposits in the walls of arterial vessels. this narrowing of the arteries is known as arteriosclerosis and is one of the primary causes of coronary heart disease.
What’s the link between diabetes and atherosclerosis?
Yes. Increased blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can have harmful effects on your heart. Diabetes can worsen underlying coronary artery disease and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you have diabetes, you’re at higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than people without diabetes. In fact, people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.
Does being overweight increase the risk of heart attack or stroke?
If your BMI is over 30, and your health is good, eating whatever you feel like isn’t usually a good idea.
Being overweight increases the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack. A greater amount of effort is required for you to breathe when you are overweight. If you eat too much food, your liver cannot process the excess food in your body. This is like eating a paper bag full of food instead of eating a healthy balanced meal each day.
Lifestyle decisions such as diet, nutrition, and physical activity play a large part in the risk of cardiovascular problems. Physical activity has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as maintain weight. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 1 in 4 Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050. Diabetes is a disease that can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 2 to 4 times in people with Type 2 diabetes.
In addition to those factors related to lifestyle, genetic predisposition and endocrine disorders are other factors believed to contribute to cardiovascular disease in those with obesity.
A More Direct Link?
Recent longitudinal studies indicate that while obesity can affect a number of risk factors for heart disease, the two are also directly related in that obesity can be a predictive indicator of heart disease. In a fourteen year study, it was indicated that middle-aged women with a BMI index of greater than twenty-three, but less than twenty-five still had an approximate 50% increase in the risk of both fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease. This indicates a clear, direct connection between obesity and heart disease.
Who Gets It?
Both men and women are affected equally by obesity when it comes to heart health. However, studies have shown an increased risk of coronary heart disease in obese white women when compared to obese white men. This is due to the obesity epidemic in the United States being particularly prevalent in white women.
Other associations of obesity with heart disease include:
- Gout to heart disease association
- Low sex hormone levels, especially in women
Another factor that may connect severe obesity and heart disease more directly is that of abnormalities in the left ventricular mass and function of the heart. While in the majority of cases, these abnormalities are seen in the presence of both hypertension and obesity, there are recorded causes where these abnormalities are seen without hypertension being apparent. In such cases, the only condition that appears to affect the condition of the heart is severe obesity. This information indicates that obesity and heart disease are intricately linked and can definitely lead to congestive heart failure.
Treatment Choices for Obesity and Heart Disease
Since a connection, either direct or indirect, has long been established between obesity and heart disease, the medical profession has developed a number of avenues over the years to combat these two related problems.
Several studies demonstrate that being overweight can lead to heart disease—the most common type of heart illness. In fact, some of these studies have also shown that losing as little as 5% of your body weight can dramatically reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In certain patients with congestive heart failure, for instance, sodium restriction and even a small reduction in weight may dramatically improve the function of the heart and lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease. In fact, a number of studies have indicated that a drastic weight loss, such as after gastro-intestinal surgery, greatly decreases the occurrence of both heart disease and insulin based diabetes.
With the rise of smartphones and other portable media devices, many people constantly on-the-go are now choosing to walk instead of drive. This often requires them to eat on the go.
Walkability has become an increasingly important feature for cities, and many U.S. cities have been encouraging their citizens to leave the car behind and take more steps to get around. Companies and organizations can encourage healthy living by offering healthier, more nutritious food options in convenient places. Two recent Maine laws, for example, have been intended to incentivize the convenience and service industries to provide healthy food options in Maine, thus encouraging everyone to eat healthier. Many companies offer discounted or free healthy meal options, including Subway, McDonald’s and Applebee’s.
Studies have shown that people who exercise on a regular basis spend less on health care. Exercise is also known to improve concentration and memory, relieve anxiety and depression, and reduce risks for heart disease and stroke. Many workplaces have wellness programs to encourage employees to exercise and eat healthier..
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of high-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. One way to be sure you are getting the recommended amount of physical activity is to track your activity in a physical activity log or pedometer. People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart or lung disease should talk to their health care provider about how much physical activity is safe for them.
The Balance of Hope
Despite medical advances, heart disease remains America’s number one killer. Diet and lifestyle changes can help prevent heart disease from occurring in the first place. Having a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight. If a person’s body mass index is between 25 and 29.9, it indicates the person is overweight; if it is above this range, the person is considered obese.
There are, of course, any number of ways to treat both obesity and heart disease. These can include changes in diet and exercise practices, medication, and sometimes even surgery. Only you and your doctor can decide what choice is best for you. Whatever method is chosen, the connection between obesity and heart disease is becoming clearer every day.