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Cause and Effect: What a High BMI Means for Your Heart

Published on July 31, 2013

originalLet’s get to the heart of the matter, shall we? Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States and a recent genetic study now shows that elevated body mass index (BMI) in overweight and obese people isn’t simply linked to heart failure – it has been proven to cause it.

BMI is a simple measure of weight-for-height used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. The same for both sexes and for all ages of adults, the World Health Organization definition of a normal BMI is from 18 to 25, overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25 and obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.According to the international study, for every point increase in BMI over 25, the incidence of heart failure goes up 17% in overweight people.

The study’s findings indicate a higher BMI in overweight and obese patients caused heart failure, possibly due to increased blood pressure and stress on the heart organ. In addition, high BMI was linked to the following conditions:

Angina – when the heart does not get enough blood, causing a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest, shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.

Arrhythmias –irregular heartbeats which can lead to death, depending on their type.

Coronary artery disease –when the coronary arteries become hardened and narrowed by fatty material. Obvious symptoms are rare, so many people live with it for years before the first sign which is often a “sudden” heart attack.

Heart disease –including bleeding along artery walls, hardening of the arteries, and heart attack.

Kidney damage or failure –due to damaged blood vessels, which can require a kidney transplant or dialysis

Stroke – an interruption or blockage of blood to the brain.

Vision loss – caused by blocked blood vessels to the eye.

Working towards just a 5-10% reduction in BMI for people who are severely overweight or obese can significantly reduce risk factors for many health concerns such as diabetes and high blood pressure. In addition, obese people who decide to undergo surgery to speed weight loss may lower their risk of having and dying from a heart attack or stroke. Findings from a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that half of the participants who elected to undergo weight-loss surgery were 33% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who did not have surgery and 53% less likely to die from one.

If you are struggling with obesity, you know that there is no simple remedy. At our Orange County weight-loss surgery practice we treat many patients who have been referred by physicians and cardiologists, or have simply tried other methods of losing weight without success. Many, maybe like you, have made earnest attempts to lose weight, only to become frustrated and discouraged when it is quickly regained. With laparoscopic obesity surgery, our patients have achieved their goals, improved their cardiovascular health and kept the weight off.

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