Obesity has always been a significant health concern. Study after study has shown the impact of excess bodily fat to be a contributor to the development of serious chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnea, and metabolic-associated fatty liver disease. Now, add to this list its association with heart-related deaths.
A new study published recently in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA), states that obesity is a burden that is causing a rise in heart disease deaths. One concerning part of the study is that Black women have some of the highest heart-related deaths, followed by American Indians and Alaska Natives. Additionally, obesity-related death from heart disease has risen three-fold in the U.S. between 1999 and 2020. The rise went from 2.2 deaths for every 100,000 people to 6.6 deaths for every 100,000 during that timeframe.
The researchers gathered information from reviewing electronic health records from more than 280,000 deaths in the U.S. related to heart disease that also had obesity noted as a contributing factor for the cause of death.
Rise in worldwide obesity rates concerning
There’s been a worrying shift in the rates of obesity around the globe. Obesity is increasing in every country in the world. The United States has experienced a 10% surge over the past decade; now, approximately 42% of American adults, are obese. At this time, predictions estimate that the state of being overweight or obese will affect more than half of the population throughout the world by 2035.
In the AHA study, it was found that Black adults living in urban areas had higher obesity rates linked to heart disease in comparison to Black adults living in rural areas. However, for the other racial groups, those living in urban areas had lower rates of heart disease deaths when compared to those in rural areas.
Why obesity contributes to heart disease
It’s been known for decades that obesity contributes to various health conditions, including heart disease. There are three specific ways in which carrying excess body weight negatively affects the heart:
1. Affects cholesterol levels
Obesity is associated with causing an increase in LDL cholesterol (bad) and triglyceride levels. In addition, it can reduce HDL (good) cholesterol levels necessary for removing the LDL cholesterol from the blood to help reduce heart disease risk.
2. Causes blood pressure to rise
When a person is obese, there are more miles of blood vessels the heart is pumping blood, oxygen, and nutrients through to all areas of the body. This extra workload on the heart will automatically increase blood pressure, making hypertension a leading contributor to heart disease.
3. Risk of type 2 diabetes is increased
A top contributor to increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes is obesity. At least 68% of people age 65 and older who have diabetes also have heart disease. In addition, simply having diabetes increases the risk of developing heart disease by two to four times more than someone without diabetes.
Steps to losing weight
There are ways to beat the battle of obesity, but it does take time, effort, and self-discipline. Here are basic steps leading to a healthier body weight that help lower the risk of heart disease:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat smaller portion sizes – creating a calorie deficit is the biggest contributor to weight loss
- Get adequate sleep – most adults need between 7-9 hours each night
- Tackle stress smartly. Stress can lead to obesity. Do deep breathing, stretch, meditate, engage in a favorite hobby, walk your dog or someone else’s, and get outdoors every day to enjoy nature.
- As a last resort, consider bariatric surgery or weight loss medications. Discuss the pros and cons of each with your physician to determine if this is the best solution for you.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.