The Health Effects of Excess Weight on Your Heart

weight lossCarrying excess weight is a risk factor for a variety of health issues, including heart disease. While there are many risk factors for heart disease you can’t control, such as your age or family health history, you can take steps to manage your weight. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can lower your heart disease risk.

The Heart-Health Connection
A larger body size means your heart may have to work harder to send blood throughout your body. This can contribute to high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can cause the heart to get larger or weaker, leading to heart failure. It can also cause blood vessels throughout the body to narrow in places such as the heart, brain, or kidneys, which can cause a heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.

Being overweight can also lead to type 2 diabetes. This occurs when your blood sugar levels become too high. If you have diabetes, you have twice the risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke compared to someone without diabetes. High blood sugar levels can lead to deposits of fatty materials inside your blood vessel walls. This can lead to narrowing and hardening of your blood vessels, a condition called atherosclerosis, which can also possibly lead to heart attack or stroke.

Reduce Your Risk
Here are some tips to help you lose weight:

  • Set doable goals. Aim to lose about 5 to 10 percent of your current weight over six months. Losing 1 to 2 pounds per week can help you lose weight safely and keep the weight off.
  • Cut calories. Cutting 500 to 1,000 calories per day can help you lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.
  • Eat a healthy diet. In addition to helping you lose weight, foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products may also lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Increase your physical activity. Aim for 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity, such as brisk walking, per week.

Don’t be discouraged if your weight loss slows or stops. This is common. Just ask your doctor for tips on how to get off your weight-loss plateau.

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