Chest Pain Due To Inadequate Blood Flow To The Myocardium The Dangers of Morbid Obesity

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The Dangers of Morbid Obesity

There are many synonyms for morbid: bleak, gloomy, cheerless, sad, foreboding, joyless, gloomy, ominous, and hopeless. No wonder people are offended when they are diagnosed with a condition that shows such terrible harm.

In medical terms, however, the word ‘morbid’ denotes a condition that has progressed to the stage of ill health or disease. Morbid obesity is defined as 100 pounds over ideal body weight or at least 200% of ideal body weight.

Just as alcoholism leads to liver damage and family disorders, morbid obesity is associated with predictable disease patterns. While it’s true that not every person who fits the definition will suffer from any of these problems, the following problems are common enough to be listed among the dangers of morbid obesity:

1. Type 2 diabetes. Obesity is associated with insulin resistance, a condition that may require more insulin to be secreted than the pancreas can provide. When glucose levels exceed insulin production, diabetes occurs, a risk factor for heart disease and many chronic conditions.

2. High blood pressure. Just as weight loss can lower blood pressure, weight gain will increase systolic and diastolic levels. Quite often, diabetes and hypertension are found in the same individual, multiplying the risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke.

3. High cholesterol. Both high food intake and high body weight contribute to elevated cholesterol levels, a third risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

4. Sleep apnea and breathing problems. When fat accumulates in the upper body, it can contribute to airway obstruction, especially during sleep, resulting in periods of reduced oxygenation and frequent awakenings. This leads to daytime sleepiness and a feeling that you are never refreshed. In addition, breathing becomes a greater effort as the body must lift additional tissue to expand the lungs. As exercise becomes more difficult, a person often becomes less active, leading to poorer fitness and further breathing problems.

5. Degenerative diseases of joints and discs. The body is a machine created with certain tolerances. Our knees, hips, and backs were not designed to carry an extra hundred pounds all day, year after year. Like the shocks of an overloaded truck, load-bearing joints eventually give way, causing pain and restricted movement.

6. Heart disease. The heart was designed to be able to pump blood efficiently, but only within a certain capacity. As the body expands, the heart has to work harder. Eventually, it can’t stand it and congestive heart failure occurs. In addition, obesity is a risk factor for cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries, which can lead to angina pectoris or myocardial infarction (heart pain or heart attack).

7. Fatigue. Carrying a spare tire day after day would tire anyone out. Carrying around a whole set seems impossible, but many people carry this weight and more every moment of their lives. Not surprisingly, carrying the equivalent of a dozen bocce balls makes one tired.

8. Venous stasis edema. Excess fat sometimes inhibits circulation returning from the lower body. Just as sitting on a garden hose would limit the flow of water through the hose, the compression of the large pelvic and abdominal veins by a large belly reduces the flow through these blood vessels. It’s easy enough for arterial blood to reach the feet – it’s all the way down. But the return flow of blood is upward through the venous circulation. When venous circulation is compromised, leg swelling occurs. When this continues year after year, it causes chronic scarring and darkening of the stretched skin.

9. Blood clots. Obesity is associated with increased inflammation, which makes the blood stickier and more likely to clot. Sticky blood in conjunction with inactivity and slower venous blood flow increases the risk of blood clots. They most often start in the legs and then sometimes move to the heart or lungs where they can be really fatal.

Although the list above seems barren, gloomy, joyless, sad, foreboding, joyless and ominous, it is far from hopeless. Losing weight can improve or reverse each of these conditions. Start today and make a difference.

Copyright ©2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, Ph.D. honey

Morbid obesity. The name itself suggests an ominous plague.

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