Obesity: Effects on the Heart
Obesity: Effects on the Heart

Obesity is a troubling reality for more than 1.9 billion adults, and poses many health risks. Whether it is the result of a lifetime of poor eating habits and lack of exercise or arrives following a period of illness or convalescence, obesity can greatly reduce your lifespan in a whole host of ways, not the least of which involves your heart.

What is Obesity?
Obesity is defined by having a BMI of 30 or higher. Your BMI is calculated using a height-to-weight ratio and there are many available online. But chances are, if you’re obese you know it, and you’re not happy about it. It’s not easy to make big changes in your lifestyle, but accepting that you need to is the first step toward giving yourself the gift of a longer, happier life and a healthier heart.

How Does Obesity Affect Your Heart, Anyway?
Well, for starters, obese people tend to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes—all factors for heart disease. Obese people also have greater blood volume, putting added pressure on your heart and ateries. More fat means more blood, so your heart has to work harder to circulate it through your body, which, over the years, can lead to heart failure. Fatty tissue also produces toxic substances that damage your heart muscle and arteries. Obesity can cause obstructive sleep apnea, which is a risk factor for high blood pressure and diabetes. It can raise your risk of developing atrial fibrillation, which can lead to heart attacks or stroke.

Every Pound Lost Helps
The good news is that losing even as little as five pounds can have a positive effect on your overall health. And once you’ve lost five, you know you can lose five more, and so on. It’s not an easy process, and if your BMI is on the higher end of the spectrum, you should ask your doctor to supervise your weight-loss program. Beginning slowly and incorporating regular, daily exercise, and eliminating sugary, fatty, and processed foods is key. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet, and learn to prepare dishes like fish and poultry. There are many online weight-loss resources, clubs, and apps available for support. Use every tool at your disposal to become a healthy weight. Your heart is counting on you.