Why obesity is the enemy of your heart

Among the Spanish population over 18 years of age, 16.5% of men and 15.5% of women suffer from obesity, a percentage that increases even more in men in the age groups of 35 to 74 years. In addition, 44.9% of men and 30.6% of women are overweight. These are data from the European Health Survey in Spain for the year 2020 , and indicate that a considerable percentage of the population is at risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease.

In fact, obesity is, together with overweight, the most common cardiovascular risk factor in patients who have suffered a myocardial infarction: more than two thirds of patients with coronary heart disease are overweight or obese, as indicated in the article ‘Obesity and Heart’ published in the Spanish Journal of Cardiology . However, it is also a modifiable risk factor, which we can control, and by doing so we would be reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease appearing.

What is obesity?

Obesity is caused by the excessive accumulation of energy reserves in the body in the form of fat , and the current lifestyle has contributed to increasing the numbers of those who suffer from it. We speak of obesity when the body mass index -the parameter that relates weight and height- exceeds 30 kilos per square meter, while overweight is considered any figure between 25 and 29.9 kilos per square meter. It is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters.

What consequences does it have?

The heart is one of the affected organs in those who suffer from obesity. The reason is that it is overworked and has increased pressure because it needs to move more blood to more volume of tissue, which can end up influencing the heart’s ability to pump blood adequately .

But in addition, obesity multiplies the chances of presenting other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure – it is estimated that hypertension is 2.5 times more frequent in obese people than in people of normal weight -, high cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus, which in turn increase the risk of suffering from other cardiovascular diseases.

How to fight it?

The body accumulates fat or uses the stored fat depending on the balance between the intake of calories and the physical activity that we carry out. Hence, to combat obesity, it is key to find a balance between the food we eat and the degree of physical exercise .

Eat healthy, prioritizing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains, and reducing both free sugars and trans fats, in addition to limiting the intake of saturated fats in favor of unsaturated fats, present in fish, avocados, nuts and olive oil, is the most effective measure to prevent obesity if we combine it with another fundamental tool: following a sports routine. This should include at least between 150 and 300 minutes per week dedicated to the practice of aerobic physical activity of moderate intensity.


by Abdullah Sam
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