Carrying excess weight is a risk factor for a variety of health issues, including heart disease. While there are many risk factors for heart disease you can’t control, such as your age or family health history, you can take steps to manage your weight. If achieving a healthier weight is one of your health goals, it might be empowering to know that losing just five to 10 percent of your current weight can lower your heart disease risk.
Here are some tips to bring your heart health (and weight) back in balance.
The Heart-Health Connection
A larger body size means your heart may have to work harder to send blood throughout your body. This can contribute to high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can lead to heart failure heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.
Being overweight can also lead to type 2 diabetes. This occurs when your blood sugar levels become too high. If you have diabetes, you have close to twice the risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke compared to someone without diabetes. High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels.
Reduce Your Risk
Here are some tips to help you lose weight:
- Set realistic goals. Aim to lose about five to 10 percent of your current weight over six months. Losing one to two pounds per week can help you lose weight safely and keep the weight off.
- Eat a healthy diet. In addition to helping you lose weight, foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products are also good for your heart.
- Increase your physical activity. Aim for 150 minutes— that’s two and a half hours —or more of physical activity, such as brisk walking, per week.
- Talk to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your heart disease risk and your weight-loss goals. He or she can guide you to additional resources and make a plan to help you achieve whole health.
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