Remember when you were a kid and hefty Uncle Morty would always end every
Thanksgiving dinner by pushing himself from the table, opening his belt buckle,
and letting his growing belly roll him onto the Lazee-Boy? Remember how you
promised yourself you'd never end up like that -- no matter what?
Statistics show that more than a few of us have broken that promise.
According to the CDC, more than 60% of the population is either overweight or
obese. And experts say that's bad news for heart health nationwide.
An enlarged heart (cardiomegaly) may have various causes. But it's usually the result of high blood pressure (hypertension) or coronary artery disease.
An enlarged heart may not pump blood effectively, resulting in congestive heart failure. Cardiomegaly may improve over time. But most people with an enlarged heart need lifelong treatment with medications.
But simply being overweight - without any other risk factor -- can cause
problems, says the American Heart Association.
The heavier you are -- period -- the higher your risk of heart disease, says
Helene Glassberg, MD, director of the Preventive Cardiology and Lipid Center at
Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
Moreover, excess weight often means higher-than-normal levels of both
cholesterol and triglycerides, indications of how much fat may be also floating
around in your blood.
"The higher your level of blood fats, the greater your risk of
developing a clot significant enough to block blood flow to your heart,"
Indeed, even seemingly healthy hearts are affected by weight. In a study
published in the journal Circulation, doctors found that lugging
around those extra pounds appears to subtly weaken your heart's ability to pump
blood -- one of the first steps leading to eventual heart failure.
But weight alone is not your only concern. If you have thin arms and legs
but a bulging tummy, you may be at equally high -- or even higher -- risk than
an overweight or obese person. Emerging research points to "central obesity"
(or a big waistline) as a key culprit in bringing on heart disease.
Your Waistline Is a Key Predictor of Heart Disease
While for many years doctors weren't exactly sure of the link between weight
and heart health, recent studies, including research published in the
American Journal of Physiology in 2005, indicate fat cells may act
like mini chemical factories, churning out a host of hormones and other
inflammatory substances that increase our risk of heart disease.