A persistent health problem in modern society, obesity carries several other health issues with it. In particular, it is linked to a number of cardiovascular diseases. These cardiovascular diseases are serious health concerns you should be mindful of. If you suspect that you or a loved one is obese, you need to watch out for the following diseases.
Coronary Heart Disease
Also referred to as ischemic heart disease (IHD), coronary heart disease is regarded as the most common type of cardiovascular disease characterized by chest pain that may radiate into the shoulder, the arm, the neck, the jaw, and the back.
The symptoms usually appear when you feel emotional and physical stress and last for a few minutes. These symptoms typically improve upon resting.
Coronary heart disease is partly inherited, with an estimated heritability of 40 percent to 60 percent. Risk factors, however, play the bigger role in its development. These include obesity, smoking, the lack of exercise, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, poor diet, alcoholism, and depression. Obesity, in particular, is associated with around 20 percent of the cases of coronary heart disease recorded.
Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease that entails the narrowing down of the artery walls due to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It mainly affects larger arteries and commences when the endothelium (a thin layer of cells that make artery walls smooth and enables smooth blood flow) is damaged. As the endothelium is damaged, harmful cholesterol accumulates on the artery wall.
Atherosclerosis can start developing during the adolescent years as streaks of white blood cells gather on the artery wall. Usually, there are no observable symptoms when this condition starts until a plaque ruptures or when blood flow becomes restricted.
Obesity is a major risk factor in developing this disease because of high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol and sugar in the blood.
This is what is popularly known as irregular heartbeat. It is also referred to as cardiac dysrhythmia. It’s a cardiovascular disease wherein the heart beats too fast (more than 100 beats per minute for adults) or too slow (lower than 60 beats per minute for adults).
Most arrhythmias don’t exhibit symptoms, but when the symptoms appear, the person affected experiences palpitations or feels a pause taking place between heartbeats. Other symptoms include lightheadedness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and passing out.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine found that there is significant association between excess weight and the increased risk of developing arrhythmia. The study says that obesity impairs ventricular depolarization and repolarization, lengthens QT interval, and is frequently linked to ventricular arrhythmias.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition wherein arteries, except those that carry blood to the heart and the brain, are constricted. This disease usually affects the legs. Its most common symptom is leg pain when walking, which is alleviated when resting.
It also counts skin ulcers, cold skin, bluish skin, and poor nail and hair growth as its other symptoms. PAD can lead to a number of complications, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and tissue death that may need amputation.
The leading risk factor for PAD is smoking. However, obesity also affects its emergence and progression. Abdominal obesity, in particular, is notably associated with PAD among hemodialysis patients. PAD is manifested by decreased blood pressure in the affected limb, whooshing sounds in the arteries, aneurysm in the abdomen or behind the knee, and poor wound healing.
A doctor may suggest doing an electrocardiogram (ECG), an arteriogram, or other imaging tests to get more detailed information about the heart’s condition. It is important that the ECG leads are placed correctly to form an accurate diagnosis.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is basically the development of a blood clot in the deep veins of the leg. Also referred to as deep vein thrombosis, VTE is a leading cause of disability and death globally. It is estimated that there are ten million cases of venous thromboembolism worldwide per year. VTE is a serious health problem as the clot can travel into the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism.
Obesity is considered a moderate risk factor in the development of VTE. However, obesity has complex interactions with genetic and environmental risk factors. That makes it something that is still important to address to reduce the possibility of developing VTE.
Obesity being associated with a number of cardiovascular diseases shouldn’t come as a surprise. Fortunately, it is one of the modifiable risk factors. This means that something can be done to avoid it or treat it. Hence, it is possible to prevent or to at least mitigate the possibility of developing cardiovascular diseases by addressing obesity.