Heart Disease and Morbid Obesity

Effects of Morbid Obesity on Cardiovascular Heart Disease

Morbid or class-3 obesity is dangerous for cardiovascular disease (inc. heart attack, stroke, heart failure, angina pectoris, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, peripheral vascular disease, and left ventricular hypertrophy) because it leads to increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides. According to the American Heart Association, obesity is a major independent risk factor for heart disease.

Morbid Obesity Affects Cholesterol Levels

Health statistics show that morbid obesity is associated with a 100 percent increase in total serum cholesterol. The prevalence of high blood cholesterol (> 240 mg/dL) in adults who are not overweight (body mass index <25) is 13 percent for men and 13.4 percent for women. In contrast, the prevalence of high blood cholesterol for adults who are obese (body mass index > 30) is 22.0 percent for men and 27.0 percent for women.

Effect of Morbid Obesity on Atherosclerosis and Coronary Artery Disease

Atherosclerosis (hardening/narrowing of the arteries) is 10 times more common in obese people compared to people of normal weight. Coronary artery disease is also more prevalent because fatty deposits build up in arteries that supply the heart. Narrowed arteries and reduced blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Blood clots can also form in narrowed arteries and cause a stroke.

Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Heart Disease

Results from the Nurses Health Study involving 115,886 healthy women, showed a clear relationship between BMI and cardiovascular disease. For women with a BMI of 29, the age and smoking adjusted relative risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction and fatal coronary artery disease was over 300 percent higher than for women with BMI of 21. The health dangers of heart disease and stroke increase further among patients who are morbidly obese. For example, nearly 70 percent of all diagnosed cases of heart disease are related to obesity. Furthermore, mortality due to cardiovascular disease is estimated to be almost 90 percent higher in those with severe obesity.

Effect of Weight Loss on Risk of Heart Disease

Evidence from the Framingham study suggests that a 10 percent reduction in body weight leads to a 20 percent reduction in the risk of developing coronary heart disease.


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