Obesity Causes Serious Structural Damage to the Heart

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More and more Americans are succumbing to obesity, as the number of people diagnosed as clinically obese across the globe recently hit 2 BILLION. This escalating issue caused leading researchers to label the problem a “growing and disturbing global health crisis.” The severity of obesity isn’t merely an aesthetic problem: additional weight in excess leads to a number of life-threatening conditions, including serious damage to the heart.

Being overweight can cause major damage to structures in the heart, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London.  The study, and published in PLoS One journal, analyzed data to show the direct damage excess weight has on the heart’s weight and size.

Professor Steffen Petersen, lead author at QMUL’s William Harvey Research Institute, said: “We all know that our lifestyle has a big impact on our heart health – particularly if we’re overweight or obese. With this research, we’ve helped to show how an unhealthy lifestyle increases your risk of heart disease. BMI and blood pressure in particular led to heavier and bigger hearts, which increases the risk of heart problems, including heart attacks.”

The team used data collected in the UK Biobank from the hearts of 4,561 people. This allowed them to measure the effects of a range of lifestyle risk factors, including blood pressure, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), exercise, cholesterol, alcohol intake and diabetes, on the four chambers of the heart.

Risk factors could all have varying effects on the heart, but an overall increased heart weight was linked to overweight and obese individuals.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research shows the silent impact of being overweight and having high blood pressure on the structure and function of the heart, which over time may lead to heart disease and heart failure.

“The important message is that these are things we have the power to change before they result in irreversible heart damage.”

Considering how childhood obesity is a serious problem too — 1 in 3 children are classed as obese — this issue needs to be directly addressed at a younger age. There are steps that can be taken right now to help you and your family lose weight, and in turn reduce your chances of heart problems, stroke, diabetes, or even coronary death.

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