There’s no denying the fact that obesity has been on the rise in America for decades. It has been proven to make life uncomfortable and to lower people’s quality of life.
However, it also comes with much more serious health issues, namely, heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every four deaths each year in the United States is due to heart disease.
Obesity and heart disease
Here are three ways that obesity contributes to heart disease – and what you can do to take control of your health and combat not only obesity, but heart disease too!
- It can change your cholesterol levels. Most of us know that obesity can cause a spike in bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but did you know it can also lower good high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol? HDL cholesterol is important for removing bad cholesterol and working to reduce the risk for heart disease.
- It can cause your blood pressure to rise. Obese individuals require more blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to their bodies which causes an increase in blood pressure. Your body will also require more pressure to move this blood around. High blood pressure is also a common cause of heart attack, which are sadly more common for obese individuals.
- It can lead to diabetes. High cholesterol, blood pressure and heart attacks aren’t the only medical conditions you need to worry about if you’re obese. Obese individuals also have a much greater chance of developing diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, at least 68 percent of people aged 65 or older with diabetes also have heart disease. While individuals with diabetes are said to be two to four times more likely to be at risk for heart disease, the American Heart Association also lists diabetes as being one of the top seven major controllable factors to prevent heart disease. If you have diabetes but have yet to be diagnosed with heart disease, now is the time to act.
Lose weight, get healthy and reduce risk
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to lose weight, get healthy and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
The number one thing any obese individual, especially those with a family history of cardiovascular disease, should do to get healthy is to exercise regularly and eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Talk with your doctor about creating a diet and exercise plan that works best for you based on your current goals and health status.
For some individuals, diet and exercise alone may not be enough to achieve a healthy weight. If you have a BMI greater than 35, bariatric surgery may be right for you. Safe and effective, it has been shown to improve or resolve high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes in obese individuals.
If you’re considering bariatric surgery, you may be instructed to consult with a cardiologist first for “cardiac clearance.” Untreated high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other heart-related conditions can put a person at high risk for complications during and after surgery. Your cardiologist will be able to help you monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol level and any heart conditions that could create issues before you head into surgery.
After surgery you will still need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. Bariatric patients may require more protein and exercise to ensure that they are losing fat and not bone or muscle weight, including the most important muscle of them all: the heart. Proper diet and exercise post-bariatric surgery will ensure that you maintain a strong and healthy heart, and thereby continue to lower your risk of developing heart disease.