How does being overweight affect your heart? Know what the experts say
Being overweight or obese is a huge global public health issue. Heart disease is the top cause of mortality in many nations and it is just one of the health issues that obesity can cause.
It has such an impact in cardiac related events that if one has severe obesity, bariatric surgery is also recommended by reputed health societies like WHO. The National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) states that 22.9% of women are more likely to get obese which is higher in comparison to 18.6% of men, who were more likely to be obese. 35 to 49-year-old age group has shown higher prevalence of age relate obesity. But, how can being overweight, actually damage your heart?
Let's first define what it means to be overweight. Being overweight means having too much body weight for one's height. Body mass index (BMI), a measurement of body fat based on height and weight, is typically used to calculate this. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.
The heart must work harder to pump blood throughout the body when the person is overweight or obese. This increased effort may result in a number of heart conditions, including:
- Hypertension, often known as high blood pressure, is a prevalent health issue linked to obesity. Blood arteries may narrow and stiffen when the heart needs to work harder to pump blood, which can result in high blood pressure. The risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac illnesses is increased by high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol: In addition to causing high cholesterol, being overweight also raises the risk of heart disease by clogging the arteries. Having a diet rich in saturated and trans fats, which are typically found in foods like processed foods, fast food and red meat, is frequently linked to elevated cholesterol levels.
- Type 2 diabetes: This condition which affects how your body uses insulin to metabolise sugar is further exacerbated by obesity. High blood sugar levels can result from improper sugar metabolism, which can lead to a number of health issues, including heart disease.
- Fatigue and shortness of breath are the most visible symptoms that signal heart failure. It is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently. Being overweight can raise the danger of getting heart failure.
- Atrial fibrillation: It is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of blood clots, strokes, and other heart conditions. The likelihood of getting this illness can be increased by being overweight.
In addition to these heart issues, obesity might raise your risk of developing other illnesses like sleep apnea, joint issues, and some other types of cancer.
What can you do then to lower your chance of getting heart issues?
Maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise is the greatest method to lower your risk. To lower the risk of heart disease, experts advise aiming for a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
The following advice assist you in keeping a healthy weight:
- Eat a healthy, balanced meal that is rich in fibre, whole grains, lean meats, and good fats. Steer clear of processed and quick food that is heavy in saturated and Trans fats.
- Engage in physical activity: Experts recommend 75 minutes of intense exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can help greatly in maintaining a healthy weight. These include exercises like cycling, swimming, dancing, and brisk walking.
- Control your stress: Prolonged tension can cause binge eating and weight gain. To alleviate stress, try stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
- Get enough sleep: Insufficient sleep can cause fluctuations in hormone levels that affect metabolism and hunger, which can result in weight gain. Sleep for 7-8 hours every night.
- Get regular check-ups with your healthcare professional to monitor your heart health in addition to making these lifestyle modifications. If you have current medical issues that raise your risk of heart disease, your doctor may advise drugs or other therapies.
In conclusion, being overweight or obese can negatively affect your heart health and increase your risk of developing a number of illnesses. Your chance of acquiring these health issues can be lowered by maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet, frequent exercise, stress management, and getting adequate sleep. It's critical to collaborate with medical professionals in Gurugram to keep an eye on your heart health and get the right care if necessary. Keep in mind that even little adjustments to your lifestyle can have a significant impact on your general health and well-being and later on in life.
Dr. Vinay Kumar Shaw, HOD and Senior Consultant GI, Minimal Access and Bariatric Surgery