February is American Heart Month. This event seeks to remind Americans of the importance of heart health. February 3rd is the National Wear Red Day, which draws awareness to the fact that heart disease in the number one killer of women. To do our part this month, we’d like to draw attention to the impact that obesity has on heart health.
Obesity is a pressing problem for many people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 37 percent of adults in the United States are obese, and approximately 70 percent are overweight and likely on their way towards obesity.
The term obesity is used to describe the health of anyone that weighs at least 20 percent more than what is considered to be a healthy weight for their height. People who are obese have a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. Body Mass Index or BMI is a measurement of body fat based on weight in relation to height.
People that are obese have a much lower quality of life, and they tend to die at younger ages than people who are not severely overweight. Obesity puts a person at risk for more than 50 different health issues, including cancer, lung disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression.
While it is clear that obesity increases the risk of many different health issues, one of the most significant concerns is the impact that it has on the heart. People who are obese tend to have higher levels of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. Both of these issues increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Obesity increases the risk of coronary artery disease. This is the most common type of heart disease and the number one cause of death for both women and men in the United States. Coronary artery disease happens when the arteries that lead to the heart become narrow and hardened due to a buildup of cholesterol on the inner walls. This accumulation can make it difficult for blood to flow freely through the arteries, which increases the risk for heart attack.
Coronary artery disease can lead to congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure is a growing — and very grave problem in the United States. People with severe obesity are nearly four times as likely to develop congestive heart failure than those who are at a healthy body weight.
Heart failure results from conditions that cause the heart to work too hard or damage the heart muscle. Being obese puts a lot of extra stress on the heart. This causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood efficiently. Heart failure affects circulation as the heart cannot circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body efficiently.
People who suffer from heart failure feel short of breath chronically. They usually have a tough time performing essential daily activities. With heart failure, a person may feel unusually tired or out of breath easily. They may have problems with confusion and thinking. They may experience chronic swelling, especially in the ankles. Nearly 50 percent of people that are diagnosed with congestive heart failure die within five years from the date of diagnosis.
The good news is that lifestyle changes can help people with obesity lose weight and reduce the risk for heart problems. If you are obese, then changing your exercise, diet and other habits can significantly and positively impact your quality of life.
Following doctor’s orders to help you lose weight, such as following through on taking bariatric supplements if you’ve had bariatric surgery, can help you attain lasting weight loss.