Women, Obesity, and Heart Health

Women, Obesity, and Heart Health

February is American Heart Health Month, and there’s a good reason we spend the time highlighting your heart health: Nearly half of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. And, unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women — accounting for one in every five deaths.

To compound matters, obesity can further increase your risk of developing heart disease. Below, Treva Mitchell, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, and Cherlonda Westley-Henry, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, at F.I.T Medical Weight Loss & Optimization in Tomball, Texas, explore the link between women, obesity, and heart health so you can feel empowered to make heart-friendly decisions this February and beyond.

The facts about women and heart disease

Heart disease includes many conditions, such as coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Although many people view heart disease (especially heart attacks) as a condition that primarily affects men, the reality is that nearly the same number of women die from heart disease as men. 

Let’s take a look at some of the statistics on women and heart disease:

  • The southern and western states have higher rates of women diagnosed with heart disease
  • Women’s risk of developing heart disease increases after menopause 
  • Women with diabetes are more likely to have heart disease (even compared to men with diabetes)
  • Women are more likely to experience non-chest-pain symptoms (shoulder pain, jaw pain, nausea) of a heart attack, which can lead to a delayed diagnosis 
  • Pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, can increase your long-term risk of developing heart disease

In addition to these women-specific risk factors, other risk factors include family history, eating a diet high in trans fat, leading a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and being overweight. 

The link between obesity and heart disease 

Carrying excess weight can affect your mind and body in many ways. Being overweight or obese can contribute to low moods, poor self-esteem, and fatigue, but it can also increase your risk of developing several types of cancers and heart disease. 

Obesity has a strong link to heart health because it contributes to many different risk factors for heart disease, including:

If you have high blood pressure (whether it’s from diet, diabetes, or sleep apnea), the constant high force can damage the inside walls of your blood vessels. Excess weight can lead to plaque deposits building up in your arteries. The damaged blood vessels plus the plaque deposits can make your vessels hard and clogged, and that can lead to a heart attack.

Reducing your risk of heart disease

Despite all of these facts, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. Some simple action steps you can take today include:

  • Exercising regularly (150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day)
  • Eating heart-healthy foods (whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein)
  • Avoiding trans fats and processed foods
  • Practicing stress management techniques, such as yoga and deep breathing
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene 
  • Stopping smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke

All of these actions can help reduce your risk of heart disease (as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes). Exercising and eating right can also help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Our team provides functional medicine services, a patient-centered approach that looks at the root cause of diseases — and that includes heart disease. We look at your whole person to help get to the root of your problem. 

We know it’s not always easy to lose weight on your own. If you’re struggling to stay at an optimal weight, know that we also curate personal medical weight loss plans to help you reach your goal weight. 

Each plan is individualized based on your labs, your unique health goals, and any other underlying health factors. We’ve got you covered whether you need exercise plans, nutritional plans, supplements, vitamin injections, hormone therapy, or other types of wellness testing.

Focus on your heart this month

Show your heart a little love this month and identify a few key heart-friendly habits you can start to incorporate into your daily life. 

If you have questions about functional medicine, or you’d like to explore the possibilities of a medical weight loss plan, call our office or book an appointment online today.