Too Thin or Obese: How Weight Impacts Your Heart Health

Too Thin or Obese: How Weight Impacts Your Heart Health

In the United States, at least 42% of adults are obese, and another 31% are overweight. In both categories, the extra pounds affect the health of your heart, with the risk increasing as your weight gets higher. 

With the focus on today's obesity epidemic, it's easy to forget that being underweight can also impact your heart. While anyone who is underweight is at risk for heart problems, the challenge grows urgent when the weight loss is due to an eating disorder or underlying disease.

Though losing weight is never easy, and gaining weight can be equally as challenging for some, your weight is one health threat you can change. And as you get closer to a healthy weight, you prevent heart disease and tame the symptoms of an existing cardiovascular condition.

Michael Avaricio, MD, and the compassionate team at Advanced Cardiac Care PLLC are honored to help each patient maintain a healthy heart. They offer comprehensive care, including assessing your risk for heart disease and helping you reach your healthy weight.

Overweight and obesity cause heart disease

Carrying extra weight is one of the top risks for heart disease. Being overweight increases your risk of developing conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation

Additionally, people who are obese have a higher risk of sudden cardiac death even if they don't have an underlying heart condition.

Your weight influences the health of your heart in two ways, indirectly and directly.

Indirect effect of excess weight

Excess weight indirectly impacts your heart as it leads to the health conditions that cause heart disease. These conditions include:

High blood pressure

Being overweight is the primary cause of high blood pressure. The more weight you carry, the harder your heart and arteries work to pump enough oxygen-rich blood through your body, and that makes your blood pressure increase.

As your blood pressure rises, it damages the arteries, including those in your heart. This damage escalates the development of fatty plaque, which blocks blood flow.

High cholesterol

Overweight and obesity significantly increase your risk of high cholesterol, as well as unhealthy blood levels of other fats like triglycerides. When you have too much cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, there’s a higher chance the fat will attach to artery walls (as the fat grabs on to damaged areas caused by high blood pressure).

The fatty plaque, called atherosclerosis, keeps enlarging and progressively restricting blood flow. Atherosclerosis can develop in any artery. It directly causes heart disease when it occurs in your coronary arteries or when plaque elsewhere in your body ruptures and pieces travel to your heart. 

Type 2 diabetes

Being overweight is also a primary cause of Type 2 diabetes. Carrying extra weight affects the way your body uses insulin, leading to high blood sugar. High blood sugar then damages the blood vessels and nerves controlling your cardiovascular system.

People with diabetes develop heart disease at a younger age compared with those who have normal blood sugar levels.  Adults who have diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults who aren't diabetic.

Direct effect on your heart

Excess weight directly affects the health of your heart and causes heart and blood vessel disease whether or not you have any other underlying condition like high blood pressure.

Carrying too much weight damages the heart. The heart muscles thicken and the chambers inside the heart enlarge. As a result, you're more likely to develop heart failure or an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

Effect of being underweight on your heart

When your weight gets too low, it has a significant impact on many aspects of your health, including your heart and blood vessels.

There are many reasons you may be underweight. No matter the reason, a low body weight leads to problems such as nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, and loss of muscle. These health conditions directly influence your heart's ability to function.

To learn more about the link between your weight and heart health, or to get help creating a plan to restore and maintain a healthy heart, call Advanced Cardiac Care PLLC, or book an appointment online today.

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