Weight Affects Heart Failure Risk

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 5.7 million Americans have heart failure, a condition that contributes to nearly one in 10 deaths.

About 50 percent of those diagnosed die within five years.

The CDC also reports that research indicates people who have lived with obesity earlier in life but have later lost weight are at higher risk of heart failure than people who have maintained a healthy weight lifelong.

While it’s never a bad idea to get back down to a healthy weight, it’s better to prevent obesity to begin with.

“This study provides additional support to the thought that obesity in younger people is significantly correlated with cardiovascular disease as we age,” said Daniel Villarreal, cardiologist and professor of medicine at Upstate Medical University. “Even though they might have lost weight, they may result in complicated heart issues.”

Villarreal explained that early onset obesity may have already set in place factors that stay dormant until later in life, when they result in heart failure. He encourages patients to stay vigilant about their weight, instead of letting the pounds continue to pile on.

A body mass calculator such as at https://bmicalculatorusa.com can help determine what’s a healthy weight based upon weight and height. A normal body mass index is less than 35. Between 25 and 30 is overweight and over 30 is obese.

Villarreal recommends a sensible diet and sufficient physical activity as key for maintaining a healthy weight. Otherwise, heart failure and a bevy of other health problems may eventually arise, such as hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, heart attack and coronary artery disease.

“Those are very dangerous factors that will shorten the lifespan of every individual,” Villarreal said. “Being aware of the potential effects that obesity has on several levels is an important motivator to maintain a healthy weight.”

He said that temporarily reducing calorie intake to 1,500 daily can help foster weight loss, and then maintaining a moderate amount of calories afterwards can help maintain a healthy weight.

Ideally, preventing obesity reduces risk of the co-morbidities it brings. Villarreal said that many people learn unhealthful eating habits and sedentary lifestyle as youngsters and continue them into adulthood.

“People have to be aware of the importance of healthy weight control in early life, in childhood and adolescence,” he said. “Childhood and adolescent obesity leads to adult obesity.”

Families also need to take more time to stay physically active so that children learn from their parents’ example. Finding fun activities that burn calories helps ensure consistency in exericise.

Physician Az Tahir, who practices holistic integrative medicine at High Point Wellness in Syracuse and Internal Medicine Internal Care in Henrietta, said that weight loss “is not a simple thing.”

Beyond eating less and exercising more, he said that people who need to lose weight should also look at aspects of health such as a hormone imbalance, food intolerance, or thyroid disorder which can contribute to weight gain.

“The best thing is to find the root cause,” Tahir said. “I think some patients like to have a quick fix. That can be harmful. People can lose weight temporarily, but the best thing is to find the root cause. If that is not addressed, the person’s weight will be an issue and the root cause may have other problems.”