Obesity: Effects on the Heart

What is obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which you have too much body fat. You can use the body mass index (BMI) to see if you are obese. The BMI uses your height and weight to estimate how much fat is on your body. Obesity is classified as follows:

  • Mild obesity: BMI of 30 to 34.9
  • Moderate obesity: BMI of 35 to 39.9
  • Morbid obesity: BMI of 40 or more.

If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you are considered to be overweight but not obese. You have a healthy weight if your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9.

What are the effects of obesity on the heart?

Obesity increases your risk of heart disease. It also causes changes in the structure and function of the heart.

The more you weigh, the more blood you have flowing through your body. The heart has to work harder to pump the extra blood. It stretches and gets bigger. The heart muscle gets thicker. The thicker the heart muscle gets, the harder it is for it to squeeze and relax with each heartbeat. Over time, the heart may not be able to keep up with the extra load. You may then have heart failure.

How can I lower my risk of heart disease and heart attacks?

You can lower your risk of heart disease and other illnesses by staying at a healthy weight. If you already have heart disease, losing weight will lower your risk of other problems.

A plan for losing weight should include eating healthy foods, eating fewer calories, and being more physically active. Ask your healthcare provider to help you lose weight in a way that is safe, healthy, and effective. Ask about the best way to increase your physical activity.

Obese people often have high blood pressure. High blood pressure also makes the heart work harder. High blood pressure may be lowered by losing weight. Lowering your blood pressure and losing weight can help your heart work better. You may also need to take blood pressure medicine or heart medicine to help.

Written by Donald L. Warkentin, MD.
Published by RelayHealth.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.