Medically reviewed by
Dr. Nicolette Naso
McLeod Cardiology Associates Florence
The path to cardiovascular disease is clear: obesity leads to high blood pressure and diabetes, which leads to heart attack, vascular problems, congestive heart failure and stroke.
It’s a well-traveled path in the United States, where two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. In South Carolina, where the path is paved with our delicious fried foods and yummy mac and cheese, the percentage is even higher. In the United State, heart disease is the number one killer.
I’M OVERWEIGHT, NOT OBESE. REALLY?
No one wants to admit they are obese; however, many of us are willing to admit we are overweight. What’s the difference? Visit the National Institutes of Health website and enter your height and weight into their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator.
For women, a BMI of more than 21 may adversely affect the health of their heart. A BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight. A BMI of more than 30 is considered obese and places the person at serious risk of cardiovascular disease.
WEIGH THESE OPTIONS
The good news is that every pound of weight you lose reduces your chance of developing heart disease or stroke. Lose as little as 5 to 10 percent of your weight and you’ve already lowered your chances of developing these deadly diseases.
Exercising is a good start. The heart is a muscle and, like any muscle, the more active it is, the stronger and healthier it becomes.
Add heart healthy foods. If your goal is to lose 1-2 pounds per week, reduce your daily calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories. The American Heart Association offers these tips for a healthy diet:
Your plate for a healthy diet should be like a rainbow; a variety of colors and types of various fruits and vegetables.
Remember, lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke while reducing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess body fast requires a two-pronged approach: maintain heart healthy habits and continue to exercise on a regular basis.
If you have any questions about diet and exercise, talk with your primary care physician or a cardiologist.
Find a cardiologist near you.