You’ve seen it on the news: obesity is a growing problem in our country. As our society becomes more sedentary and overweight, the possibility for more health issues at an earlier age skyrockets. Diseases related to obesity include diabetes, coronary heartdisease, stroke and cancer. New research estimates one third of patients with heart failure are obese. There are several ways being overweight puts more strain on your heart.
High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is one of the most common ways that body fat affects cardiovascular disease. Overweight people are twice as likely to have high blood pressure. Blood pressure increases with weight gain and decreases with weight loss. High blood pressure means the pressure in your arteries is pushing against the blood vessel walls with more force than normal. Too much pressure can threaten healthy arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Elevated levels of cholesterol are also common in overweight people. Too much cholesterol builds up in your arteries, which makes them narrower and constricts blood flow to the heart. Heart attacks occur when the blood and oxygen can’t reach the heart because of a blocked or constricted artery. High levels of cholesterol can have a hereditary cause, but many people have a cholesterol problem from eating too many animal-based foods like milk and meat.
Losing the Weight
A recent study examined how belly fat in particular leads to a higher risk of heart disease.
Scientists found that fat growing around the larger arteries in the body may cause cardiovascular disease. That fatty tissue leads to deposits that form inside the arteries. That build-up could cause existing plaque deposits to break loose and cause a heart attack or stroke. The study on mice showed that the artery next to fatty tissue became diseased, and caused smaller blood vessels to grow around larger vessels, also affecting the artery. Researchers say this data points to a link between metabolic disorder and vascular disease.
Doctors say bariatric surgery may become an important treatment option for obese patients. Morbidly obese heart failure patients who had bariatric surgery for weight loss saw a positive difference in their health in the years following their surgery. The surgery lowered patients’ body mass index and reduced symptoms such as swelling in the legs and trouble breathing. Even if you don’t have surgery, people who are 20% or more overweight will experience significant health benefits by losing weight. Just dropping 20 pounds can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
For more information on lowering your cholesterol, losing weight and maintaining healthy blood pressure, contact us at St. Petersburg General Hospital. We look forward to treating all your health care needs. Call our Consult-A-Nurse®line at 727-341-4055 for free doctor referrals in Pinellas County.