Obesity and How It Affects The Heart
Your Weight and Heart Health
Obesity is linked to increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease including heart failure, arrythmia and coronary heart disease. Clinically, a healthy weight is defined by a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is marked at BMI 25 to 29.9 and obese is 30 and above. You can figure out your BMI using a BMI calculator or checking your stats in your patient portal from recent visits.
How Does Obesity Impact the Heart?
Simply, obesity forces the heart to work harder while at the same time hampering its ability to pump blood efficiently. As the your BMI increases, your blood volume increases. This increased volume and workload causes the heart muscle to grow in size and thicken, becoming more rigid and making normal function more difficult. As the heart struggles to contract and expand with each beat, heart failure can eventually occur.
How Else Can Obesity Hurt Your Cardiovascular System?
Beyond the risk of heart failure, excess weight contributes to health factors that also negatively impact your cardiovascular system: cholesterol, blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes. These controllable factors further tax the system and greatly increase risks to your heart. Most often, these conditions are in and of themselves linked to excess weight, dietary choices and activity level.
Another often forgotten weight related illness that can greatly impact the heart is sleep apnea. Commonly found in patients with obesity, sleep apnea involves long pauses in breathing during sleep, creating a lack of oxygen. Not only does this lead to ineffective rest for you mind and body, it also may contribute to an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, heart attack or stroke.
How Can You Manage Your Weight to Protect Your Heart?
Maintaining a healthy weight can be very challenging, especially as we age. Working with your healthcare providers to develop and stick with a plan to manage your weight in a safe and healthy way is key. If you have an already-diagnosed heart condition, considering your weight might be a helpful step in managing your risks. We stress to all patients, working with your medical team is important to ensure your safety when changing your routines when it comes to medications, diet, and exercise.