Heart Health Month: How Weight Impacts Your Heart

Feb 19, 2021

obesity and heart health

One in every four deaths in the U.S. is linked to heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in both men and women.

A buildup of plaque thickens the artery walls, inhibiting blood flow through the arteries and blood flow to the organs and tissues. This condition, known as atherosclerosis is one of the most common causes of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis is often caused by correctable problems, such as being overweight or obese, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and smoking.

In recent years, studies have demonstrated the strong correlation between obesity and heart disease. People who are overweight or obese not only have greater risk of developing heart disease, but these patients are also more likely to develop heart disease at a younger age. Additionally people living with heart disease are more likely to have a shorter life span if they are overweight than a healthy weight person living with heart disease.

Obesity impacts heart health in a number of adverse ways:

  1. Obesity-Related Medical Conditions — Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, sleep apnea — these health conditions are all direct risk factors for heart disease.

  2. Inflammation — Obesity can cause hazardous inflammation in the body. Although it is not yet proven that inflammation causes heart disease, it is a common marker in both cardiovascular disease and stroke patients and may be a sign of serious problems to come if not corrected.

  3. Strain on the heart — The more a person weighs, the harder the heart must work to provide oxygen-rich blood to the body. Being overweight can also impair the rhythm of heart and increase thickness of heart muscles, all of which create strain on the heart.

At Nicholson Clinic, our goal is not only to help you lose weight, but to help you reduce the risk factors that can trigger heart disease and early death. Losing even a small amount of weight can lighten the load on your heart and improve risk factors associated with heart disease. If you are overweight and have already been diagnosed with heart disease, or if you are concerned about developing heart disease, take action now to develop a heart-healthy lifestyle to help reduce your risk.

Adopt a healthy diet. Focus on eating lean protein with each meal (chicken, fish, etc), eating plenty of vegetables, some fruits and drinking lots of water. (Ideally, you would drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.) Avoid sugars, liquid calories and processed foods. If needed, work with a dietitian to help you establish a heart-healthy eating plan.

Increase physical activity. Both aerobic (cardio) and strength training exercise are important for heart health. According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week. That breaks down to 30 minutes, five days a week. If you can’t exercise for 30 minutes at once, break it down into manageable sessions of 10 or 15 minutes, two or three times a day.

Stop smoking. Cigarettes and other type of tobacco can increase your risk for heart disease. If you need help kicking the habit, talk to your doctor.

Consider weight loss surgery. If you have a BMI of 40+, or you have existing weight-related medical conditions, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgery is proven to help patients not only lose weight, but improve risk factors for heart-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Losing weight can make a big difference when it comes to your heart health. Don’t leave it to chance. Contact Nicholson Clinic today to learn more about how we can help you lose weight and reduce your risk for developing heart disease.

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