Sports medicine authorities warn that failing to get enough exercise and adequate nutrition can result in obesity. That leads to an array of health problems, from knee and shoulder pain to heart disease. According to a recent study, obesity damages the heart even for people who show no symptoms.
Health experts have long understood that diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol often cause cardiovascular disease. Now, according to Health Day News, there is evidence that overweight people who have not been diagnosed with any of those conditions may still suffer heart damage.
“Obesity is a well-known ‘accomplice’ in the development of heart disease, but our findings suggest it may be a solo player that drives heart failure independently of other risk factors that are often found among those with excess weight,” said the lead investigator, Dr. Chiadi Ndumele, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.
The study, published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, involved more than 9,500 volunteers between the ages of 53 and 75 in four states. None of them had heart disease. Researchers tracked them for 12 years, during which 869 of the study participants sustained heart failure. “Severely obese” people were found to have more than double the risk of developing heart failure. The more weight gained, the greater the danger.
While obesity was shown to increase the likelihood of heart-muscle damage, the impairment in many cases produced no symptoms. Left untreated, the damage can result in heart failure, the inability of the organ to pump blood properly.
“The direct relationship we found between obesity and subclinical heart damage is quite potent and truly concerning from a public health standpoint, given the growing number of obese people in the United States and worldwide,” Ndumele said in a news release.
Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of Hopkins’ Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, also was quoted in the release. He said:
“These results are a wake-up call that obesity may further fuel the growing rate of heart failure, and clinicians who care for obese people should not be lulled into a false sense of security by the absence of traditional risk factors, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension. Obese people, even when free of cardiovascular symptoms, should be monitored for the earliest signs of heart failure and counseled on ways to improve their lifestyle habits.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. For some people, it results in disability. The risk increases as a person ages, with most cases being reported in men older than 45 and women over 55. It is a hereditary disease, so those who have a close family member diagnosed with heart problems at an early age are at greater risk.
On its website, the NIH recommends the following prevention measures:
– “Know your blood pressure and keep it under control;
– “Exercise regularly;
– “Don’t smoke;
– “Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, keep it under control;
– “Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and keep them under control;
– “Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables”; and
– “Maintain a healthy weight.”
If you are overweight and experiencing pain in your shoulders, knees or other joints, it is important to start getting proper nutrition and regular exercise. Schedule an appointment for an evaluation by the nationally renowned sports medicine surgeons at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego to learn about what else you can do to lower your risk of heart disease.