Many medical professionals believed that obesity and heart disease were only related in an indirect sense. They attributed the major risk factors for heart disease (such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and even arteriosclerosis) to the degree of the obesity of the person involved. While obesity is a contributing factor for many of these conditions, studies are now indicating a more direct link between obesity and heart disease.
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.
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.
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.
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 everyday.