Obesity: Effects on the Heart

What is obesity?

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

  • A healthy weight is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
  • Obesity is a BMI of 30 or higher.

What are the effects of obesity on the heart?

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

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.

Obese people often have high blood pressure. High blood pressure also makes the heart work harder.

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

You can lower your risk of heart disease and other illnesses by having a healthy weight and healthy blood pressure.

If you are overweight or obese and have heart disease, losing weight will lower your blood pressure and help your heart work better. A plan for losing weight should include:

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Eating fewer calories
  • Being more physically active.

Ask your healthcare provider to help you lose weight in a way that is safe and healthy. Ask about the best ways to get more exercise. You may also need to take blood pressure medicine or heart medicine.

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