Obesity is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as excess weight that is unhealthy for a person of a certain height. This additional weight has been determined to have a definite negative effect on the cardiovascular system. About thirty-five percent of adults (78 million) and seventeen percent of children ages 2 to 19 (almost 13 million) are obese, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). This condition should be included in any heart health equation.
Specific effects on the heart
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America with stroke and diabetes ranking fifth and seventh, according to CDC. Obesity raises the level of triglycerides in the blood system. Triglycerides are fats distributed throughout the body and the higher that level, the harder it is for blood to flow to the heart and other organs. Being obese also lowers HDL, often called “good cholesterol.” HDL helps keep arteries clear. In addition to the impact on cholesterol, higher blood pressure is another result of obesity. All of these factor into a greater chance of heart attack or stroke.
How obesity is determined
Obesity is determined by Body Mass Index, or BMI. Basically, it’s the ideal weight for a particular height. Normal BMI ranges from between 18.5 to 25. A person is considered “overweight,” but not obese if the level is between 25 and 30. A person with BMI over 30 is defined as obese. A physician or cardiologist can determine BMI but there are resources available online. Calculators are provided on the web sites of CDC (CDC.gov), the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (nhlbi.nih.gov) and other sites. A person can enter height and weight and the calculator will determine BMI. It is important to consult with a physician or cardiologist to confirm results.
Another method is to simply measure the waist. Women who measure 35 inches or more and men who measure 40 inches or more at the waist are prime candidates for obesity. Again, consulting a physician or cardiologist to confirm is recommended.
Take it seriously
It is important not to take obesity lightly. In fact, the AHA, the American College of Cardiology and The Obesity Society recommended in 2013 that it be treated as a disease. The institutions believe that the complications that obesity leads to, especially when combined with family medical history and other factors, warrant such a designation. The Food and Drug Administration changed its labeling requirements for food products because of the direct link between obesity and heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
There are many methods of treating obesity. The severity of the disease will help determine which would be the most effective in an individual. Changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle have definite effect on weight and obesity. Reducing calorie intake, increasing physical exercise and eliminating harmful lifestyle choices, such as smoking, will help reduce excess weight. These methods take consistency and patience because of the time involved. To be most effective and to avoid regaining lost weight, eating a proper diet and getting sufficient exercise should be incorporated into daily living.
In some cases, medication is prescribed to combat obesity. Among products prescribed for obesity are orlistat, lorcaserin, phentermine and liraglutide. These, and other similar class drugs are produced by different manufacturers to be administered under the advice of a physician.
Surgery is also an option. The severity of the obesity, age and other conditions, such as pregnancy, are considered prior to deciding on surgery. Gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch and gastric sleeve are surgical methods in treating obesity.
Once any of these methods is chosen, subsequent healthy living is imperative to make sure the problem doesn’t occur again. After a prescribed medication’s time has come and gone or if surgery has taken place, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle increase the odds of obesity returning.
To learn more about the impact of obesity on cardiovascular health and treatment, log on to vascularhealthclinics.org.