Obesity, a disease of excess fat tissue in the body (BMI > 30), is now recognized as a major risk factor for atherosclerotic coronary heart disease, which can cause heart attacks. Medical research into lipids and cardiovascular disease has identified some of the reasons for this higher risk but many of the factors linking obesity and its health consequences remain unclear.
How Obesity Increases The Risk Of Heart Disease
The health risks of obesity increase in line with a patient’s weight. Thus the increased cardiovascular health risk for a mildly obese person may be relatively small compared to the significant dangers posed by morbid or super obesity. Here are some of the specific ways in which obesity poses an extra danger to heart health.
- It tends to raise levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides (a related lipid).
- It tends to lower HDL – the good cholesterol. Since healthy levels of HDL are associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
- It tends to raise blood pressure levels.
- It is strongly linked to incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, diabetics are a high-risk group for the development of all types of vascular disease, including cardiovascular disease.
- Obese patients commonly experience greater difficulty taking exercise, which is not good news as physical exercise itself helps to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons typically recommend exercise as an important part of post-operative recovery for heart attack survivors.
Weight Loss Reduces Cholesterol And Improves Heart Health
If you are obese, don’t despair. Losing as little as 10 percent of your weight can bring noticeable improvements in your serum cholesterol and other lipid levels. Look for a weight loss program that offers maximum support, and take care to follow a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate in protein and high-fiber low-GI carbs, with only small amounts of trans fats and saturates.