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Understanding Obesity Related Diseases: Heart Disease

As more of our population become obese and overweight, obesity diseases become much more prevalent. Heart disease is one such disease, and here I explain what it is, why it affects the overweight, symptoms and prevention.cardiologist

What is it?
Heart disease is an umbrella term used to describe a range of diseases affecting the heart and, in some cases, blood vessels.  The diseases that fall under this broad term include: cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems, congenital heart defects, etc.

The damaging effect of heart disease is severe, it’s the number one killer of men and women.  According to the Mayo Clinic website, it’s responsible for 40% of all the deaths in the U.S., which is more than all forms of cancer combined.

Why is it affected by obesity/overweight?
Abdominal fat is a predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases.  Overeating and physical inactivity is a deadly combination when it comes to your health.  A poor diet high in fat, salt, and cholesterol (which is a common diet in obese/overweight individuals) can and does contribute to the development of heart disease.  The rate of obesity is significantly high in the U.S., thus is of concern to health professionals because of its implications on American’s health.

What are the symptoms?
Heart disease symptoms vary, depending on what type of heart disease you have. Some common ones include:

  • Chest pain*
  • Shortness of breath*
  • Pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms
  • Lightheaded
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting*

*See your doctor immediately if the symptoms occur.
Remember heart disease is easier to treat when it’s detected early! See your doctor as soon as you experience anything  out of the ordinary.

overweight-couple-on-treadmillWhat can you do to prevent it?
Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices, diet, and exercise.

  • Smoking – Heart attacks are more common in smokers than nonsmokers.
  • Diet - A diet high in fat, salt, and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
  • Obesity – Excess weight worsens other risk factors.  Reach and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Physical Inactivity – Lack of exercise puts you at risk for multiple cancers and disease. It’s recommended to exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • Stress - Unrelieved stress in your life may damage your arteries as well as worsen other risk factors.  Practice stress management routines to help lower your risk.

April 20th, 2009

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