If you are prone to carrying fat around your middle, then you may be at an increased risk for heart disease. As it turns out, being overweight isn’t just bad for your waistline—it is bad for your heart. Research indicates that people who are overweight also tend to have high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels and an overall increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Your risk for coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death from heart disease, will increase with your BMI. Coronary heart disease develops when plaque builds up within the arteries of the heart. Plaque is a waxy substance that inhibits blood flow. Following an unhealthy diet that is rich in trans and saturated fats, living a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight all increase the amount of plaque that builds up in your bloodstream.
Additionally, being obese applies added pressure to your heart. When you are overweight, your heart is required to work harder to pump more blood to reach your body’s needs. Heart failure occurs when the heart becomes unable to keep up with the fast pace necessary to pump blood throughout an enlarged frame.
Obesity Complicates Treatment for Heart Disease
Being overweight does not just cause heart disease; it also makes it harder to treat it. Many surgical centers are not able to perform surgical treatment on patients who are over 375 pounds, which may limit treatment options even after a proper diagnosis of heart disease.
Those who are overweight are often encouraged to make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of heart disease. These changes include:
- Reduced consumption of trans and saturated fat
- Reduced sugar consumption
- Increase in physical activity, starting with low-intensity activities
- Healthy stress management practices to reduce stress on the heart
Obesity also increases your risk of post-operative complications, such as wound infection and excessive bleeding after surgery. For this reason, many are encouraged to begin losing weight prior to weight loss surgery. Even moderate weight loss prior to your surgical date will reduce your risk of complication after bariatric surgery.
Even if you have had trouble losing weight, there is hope. Eighty percent of those who have weight loss surgery lose the weight and become healthier and reduce their risk of heart disease. Some studies have even shown that the reduced risk of heart disease remains low as long as seven years after weight loss surgery, especially for those who maintain a healthy weight level.