For the past several years, the news media, health publications and the CDC have heavily publicized the topic of weight in this country and the fact that Americans are getting heavier. In fact, more than 60-percent of people are considered overweight or obese. What’s the difference? An adult with a BMI (body mass index) of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Anything over that is considered obese. BMI is of course disputed in terms of it being a good model for every one, regardless of race, bone density, etc…but it is on of measures that the medical field uses.
Until recently, many people – even medical professionals – didn’t consider weight alone as a risk factor for heart disease. It was the other things like high-blood pressure, high-cholesterol and diabetes that caused heart disease the commonly agreed on thought. Therefore, it was thought that weight and heart disease were merely linked indirectly. However, recent studies have now shown that being overweight can lead to heart disease even in the absence of other risk factors.
Did you know…
“African-American women are 1.6 times more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have high blood pressure, putting them ahead of the pack when it comes to heart disease risk.”- Source
Heart Disease: Prevalence and Risk Factors
As the number one cause of death in the United States, heart disease accounts for approximately 30-percent of all deaths annually. In addition to excess weight, there are numerous other risk factors for heart disease. When combined with obesity, these risk factors become even more worrisome. Risk factors include;
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Poor Diet
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Alcohol Consumption
How Excess Weight Influences Heart Disease
As mentioned before, excess weight can cause certain risk factors that increase the risk of heart disease. However, obesity can cause heart disease in some people even in the absence of other risk factors. The simple act of carrying around extra weight day in and day out can burden your heart, weakening its ability to pump blood efficiently. In many cases, this can lead to congestive heart failure. Additionally, fat cells themselves can release chemicals and inflammatory substances that can lead to heart disease. Excess weight also compromises circulation and can cause blood clots.
Weight Distribution and Heart Disease
All fat is not created equal. Depending on where your body stores fat, your risk for heart disease might be lower or higher than someone with a different body shape. Those who carry weight around the middle – apple body shape – are at higher risk for heart disease than those who carry excess weight in their hips and lower body. For men, a waist larger than 40 inches in diameter is considered a risk factor for heart disease. In women, anything over a 35-inch waist is considered a risk factor.
The link between weight and heart disease is now clearly defined in medical research. Even if you’re perfectly healthy otherwise, you could still be at risk for heart disease so this is not just an issue for overweight people. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease by reducing your weight by even 10-percent. If you’re overweight, you should also have regular screenings with your doctor for other risk factors such as cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure. It’s important to seek medical advise on health disease if you have any of the risk factors. Be proactive.