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Controlling obesity can contribute to a renewed vascular lifestyle

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Omar P. Haqqani, MD
Midland Daily News
April 23, 2017

Did you know that obesity, or the health condition of having too much body fat, is a prevalent risk factor for numerous vascular conditions?

Obesity is the third leading cause of preventable death in America, succeeded by only smoking tobacco and medical hospital errors.

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When factoring in physical inactivity as part of a sedentary lifestyle, obesity is a contributing risk factor for peripheral vascular disease, spider/varicose veins, stroke, renal artery stenosis, deep venous thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

Not only this, but having too much body fat can also lead to other conditions, including hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and sleep apnea.

Due to the imposing threat that obesity poses on the human body, it’s important for patients to lose weight, as well as maintain a healthy body weight, in order to control the risk of potential disease.

A measurement known as the body mass index (BMI) is used to determine if a person's body weight or amount of body fat is detrimental to their health, using a subject’s height and weight for reference.

Obesity is caused by the ratio of calories taken in through eating to the number of calories burnt off through physical activity. If the former is vastly greater than the latter, one can be put on the fast track to becoming overweight or obese.

Obesity can be developed through other means, however, such as through a family history of the condition. If this is the case, one is more easily predisposed to developing obesity.

Not only is it important to control obesity as a means of improving one’s quality of life, but it is also vital to help prevent the development of other conditions – many of which can affect the vascular system.

Due to the high risk that obesity poses towards conditions that can cause the formation of arterial plaque, cardiovascular disease is able to form as a result.

Peripheral vascular disease, for example, can pose a serious threat, as the condition can cause plaque to build on internal arterial walls, making it difficult for blood to flow freely through the body.

The same can be said regarding the risk of developing stroke – when plaque forms in the carotid arteries, or the vascular connection to the brain, the risk of developing a stroke greatly increases.

Similar to this, plaque can build up in the renal arteries, or the vascular connection to the kidneys, causing renal artery stenosis - a condition affecting the way the organs function.

Deep venous thrombosis can also be subsequently developed due to obesity. Because obesity changes the chemical makeup of the blood, it can ultimately lead to inflammation, making the blood more prone to clotting.

Deep venous thrombosis is a condition in which blood clots form within a deep vein system of the body, typically in the legs. Additionally, if the clot was to dislodge and travel to the lung, it could ultimately result in a pulmonary embolism.

Finally, spider and varicose veins are also more likely to develop in obese patients, as excess weight can place pressure on the legs, causing this condition.

While it may feel discouraging to be diagnosed with this condition, luckily, there are numerous ways that obesity can be controlled.

Though it may seem easy to simply start a diet, it is important to recognize how daily lifestyle changes can make a larger impact. Finding the right balance between taking in calories through food, and losing calories through regular exercise, is the best way to ensure success with losing weight.

Obesity, though a disheartening condition that, if gone uncorrected or uncontrolled, can lead to a number of other conditions, can easily be monitored and managed, allowing for those afflicted with a second chance at life.

To learn more about how obesity can impact a vascular lifestyle, log on to

Dr. Omar P. Haqqani is the chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Vascular Health Clinics in Midland.

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