Did you know that cardiovascular (heart) disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.? Every year, 1 in 4 deaths is caused by this serious yet very common disease.
That’s why February is designated American Heart Month — an awareness initiative that encourages all of us to value the health of this important organ and make real, lasting lifestyle changes to benefit our overall weight and wellness.
Weight and Heart Health Have a Close Relationship
Excess weight is one of many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, as it can negatively affect the heart’s function and structure as well as the inner lining in our blood vessels. Risk factors related to excess weight that commonly contribute to this disease include:
- Hypertension and high cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Elevated blood glucose levels
- Inflammation throughout the body
If you have excess weight, or you know someone who does, are you aware of the potentially dangerous (and chronic) health conditions associated with overweight and obesity? Many of those conditions are risk factors that could impact heart health. It’s important to take these risk factors seriously and talk about them with a healthcare provider.
Common Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease
According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is defined as disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Some symptoms of CVD include:
- Heart Failure – Thickening of muscle wall; Struggle to pump blood and oxygen
- Atrial Fibrillation – Chambers of the heart aren’t synchronized during pumping
- Coronary Heart Disease – Arteries become hardened, narrowed and blocked
- Venous Thromboembolism – Blood clots in the legs; Leg swelling
- Stroke – Blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain are blocked
Fortunately, even moderate weight-loss of just 5-10 percent can improve or prevent weight-related risk factors for CVD, helping you boost your health and feel your best! Though it’s not always easy, weight-loss can be achieved through diet and exercise, medical weight management (pharmacotherapy) and sometimes, when needed, bariatric surgery.
We’ll talk more about lifestyle interventions you can take to ward against cardiovascular disease in an upcoming blog post, but until then, check out the below educational resources on the relationship between weight and heart health — proudly brought to you by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Founder of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.
Helpful Resources on Obesity and Heart Disease
Fact Sheets – OAC Brochures/Guides:
- Obesity and Heart Disease Fact Sheet
- Obesity and Hypertension Fact Sheet
- Obesity and Stroke Fact Sheet
OAC’s Weight Matters Magazine Past Articles: