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Can Losing Weight Prevent Heart Disease?

Obesity has long been understood to be a contributor to harmful long-term cardiovascular conditions, but recent research indicates that being overweight may be more directly related to heart disease than previously thought. While no two bodies are exactly alike and weight is a sensitive issue for many people, there are a number of ways in which dropping a few pounds may help you reduce your risk of heart disease.


How Does Being Overweight Contribute to Heart Disease?

Being overweight or obese has often been linked to other risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol, carrying some extra heft can also cause additional strain on your heart and blood vessels without these other conditions being present. So how does being above the ideal weight affect the body?

  • Increased Inflammation – Overeating has been linked to a heightened immune response which causes inflammation. This inflammation can result in long-term stiffening and irritation to the blood vessels, as well as spurring the growth of plaque in the bloodstream and increasing the likelihood of plaque deposits being loosened from the arterial wall and causing potentially dangerous blood clots.
  • Enlarged Arteries – Carrying extra fat from high caloric intake can affect the shape and flexibility of the arteries. Widened diameter in these blood vessels makes the heart have to work harder to pump blood through the body and has been identified as a cause of atherosclerosis.
  • Sleep Apnea – Overweight people are at a higher risk of sleep apnea, which can negatively affect the heart in many ways. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to develop high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation, which heighten the probability of a heart attack or stroke. Not being able to get enough quality sleep is also a risk in itself – studies have shown that heart disease is more common among adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.


What Is the Best Approach to Losing Weight?

The key is to establish a routine that allows you to lose weight in a healthy manner. There’s no one quick fix – a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and quitting harmful substances such as alcohol and nicotine are all critical steps to take. Your diet should include nutrient-rich foods, emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods that are high in sodium and trans fats. Read the ingredients of any packaged foods and cook at home whenever possible to ensure the healthiest possible meal plan.


Are There Any Negative Effects of Losing Weight?

If you find yourself experiencing unintentional weight loss, you should report this to a doctor immediately, as it may be a sign of an infection or other underlying medical condition such as hormonal imbalance or cancer. Losing too much weight can also be unhealthy, as malnutrition and drastic changes to diet can cause chronic stress which damages the blood vessels. If you are trying to lose weight, consult your physician to create the best plan for you.