February is Heart Month, so how better to acknowledge this than to talk about how prevalent heart disease is in people living with obesity, and how to lower that risk?
According to the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), obesity increases the risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Depending on how high the person’s BMI (body mass index) is, the risk could be particularly high, according to the OAC.
In their article, “Being overweight or obese is linked with heart disease even without other metabolic risk factors”, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) states that people who are living with obesity and have certain metabolic risk factors are two and a half times as likely to develop heart disease as people who are of a healthy weight.
The NIHR also states that people “who are obese without these risk factors still have a 28% increased risk of heart disease compared with healthy people of a normal weight”.
Why People Living with Obesity Have a Higher Risk of Heart Disease
Obesity can increase your risk of obesity in a variety of ways, but here are three, as listed by Penn Medicine on their Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Blog:
- Obesity changes your cholesterol levels. It not only raises your bad cholesterol, but can also lower high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol, which helps to remove that bad cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Obesity causes high blood pressure. This is because people living with obesity require more blood to be pumped throughout the body to provide oxygen and nutrients, and the body requires a higher amount of pressure to move that amount of blood where it needs to go.
- Obesity can lead to diabetes. Along with heart disease, people living with obesity also have a higher risk of contracting type 2 diabetes. However, according to the American Heart Association, diabetes is one of a few controllable factors to prevent heart disease. If you control the diabetes, you can control your risk of getting heart disease as well.
How to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
So is there any way to lower the risk of heart disease in people living with obesity?
Yes – bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, can help.
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic Florida, “patients with severe obesity who get weight-loss surgery cut their risk of developing coronary heart disease by about 40 percent”.
“Our study shows bariatric surgery has a significant and unparalleled effect on the known risk factors for coronary heart disease in patients after one year,” said Dr. Emanuele Lo Menzo, MD, PhD, FASMBS, the study co-author and chair of research at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston. “No other treatment, in such a relatively short period of time, can result in such significant weight loss, improvements in high blood pressure and resolution of type 2 diabetes. The key, however, is for patients to continue to have a healthy diet and exercise well after surgery to maintain their heart benefits.”
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