As modern and advanced as we think the United States is, it may still come as a surprise to some that obesity is a very real and present epidemic. In fact, 35 percent of adults and 17 percent of children and adolescents are considered overweight to the point of being obese. And this number continues to grow! Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement of how much body fat someone has, determined by looking at their weight and height. If your BMI is over 35, then you are considered obese. This epidemic is severe, and it is important for people to know that being obese poses a detrimental threat to their overall health. Many people who are obese also exhibit risk factors such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, and conditions such as diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), stroke, and the number one cause of death – cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death around the world. Some of the most common forms are coronary heart disease (coronary artery disease), arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat), and congenital heart disease. So, does increased body weight contribute to an increased risk for heart disease?
Research has shown that being obese has been directly linked to heart failure and increased mortality rate, as a result of its correlation with the various types of heart diseases. Due to a decrease in blood flow to the heart muscle, the heart cannot pump blood as efficiently and effectively as it should.
So, to answer the question – yes, your weight does increase the risk for heart failure due to cardiovascular diseases. There are several ways obesity and cardiovascular disease are related, depending on the particular disease and the severity of how overweight or obese someone is. Coronary artery disease (CAD), where the arteries of the heart and its blood flow become blocked due to plaque build-up, is the leading cause of myocardial infarction, resulting in chest pain (angina), and possible death if left untreated.
After accounting for the risk factors generally associated with heart disease and obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, a study done in the Journal of the American Heart Association investigated the role of severe obesity and the development of heart conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure. While obesity has been a known risk factor for developing heart disease, results showed that severe obesity is in fact, its own independent risk factor for heart failure.
A team at John Hopkins University conducted a study with participants who were morbidly obese, and were found to be twice as likely to develop heart failure, comparable to the people with a healthy body mass index, and not considered obese. Obesity is an independent risk factor for heart failure. Someone with a BMI over 35 and diagnosed as obese is at risk for getting some form of heart disease. This study proved that these people who were morbidly obese were more likely than those of normal weight to have a stroke or coronary heart disease. Yes, obesity alone leaves a person at a significantly higher risk for heart failure, whether or not they have hypertension or diabetes. Even if patients have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, they are still at risk for heart failure if they are obese or overweight.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says almost six million people in the United States live with heart failure, so doctors have noticed that there needs to be an improvement in educating patients, and people in general of the risk factors, and ways to keep their heart healthy, in order to better help prevent heart failure, and decrease the number of deaths. This includes eating a heart healthy diet, and making an effort to have regular exercise or activity.
Well, research studies are one thing, and real life is another. If you are overweight, you generally know that there is a healthier you that you can attain to be. You should also know that it’s important to speak with your healthcare professional about whether you might be more at risk for heart disease. To learn more about how your weight can be an indicator that you are at risk for heart disease, call Advanced Medical at (561) 434-1935, or you can request an appointment online.