Although there are many factors that influence cardiovascular health, obesity is one of the most important. Being overweight can have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system because excess weight can raise blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension is one of the leading causes of heart attack and stroke. By lowering blood pressure, you are also reducing your risk of a cardiovascular event. Even losing five or ten pounds can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and can lower blood pressure a modest amount. Limited your caloric intake and starting an exercise program can help peel off excess pounds. Individuals should not start a new diet and exercise program without speaking to a health care professional, however.
Another way in which obesity affects the cardiovascular system is by increasing cholesterol levels. High cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol can lead to blocked arteries. LDL cholesterol is also referred to as “bad cholesterol.” When arteries are blocked by cholesterol, blood cannot adequately flow through. This can cause the blood to clot and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Losing weight is a good way to lower cholesterol levels as is exercising. Sometimes, when diet and exercise fail to reduce cholesterol levels, medications known as statins can help bring down cholesterol readings to healthier levels.
Diabetes is another risk factor for people who are obese. Diabetes can cause an increase in blood pressure and kidney damage. When the kidneys stop working properly, they lose their capability to remove toxins and excess fluids from the body. This can cause swelling in the ankles, as well as in the hands and face from excess fluid, which can also accumulate around the heart. Sometimes, a condition known as congestive heart failure can occur, which can worsen as a result of diabetes.