Maintaining Good Health Even When You're Busy

Ways Losing Weight Enhances Cardiovascular Health

by Caitlin Obara

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, being overweight is a modifiable type of risk factor, unlike genetics or family history. When coupled with smoking cessation and exercise, losing weight can dramatically cut your risk for heart attack and stroke. If you have a great deal of weight to lose, talk to your doctor about which types of weight loss programs they recommend. Here are some ways losing weight can enhance your cardiovascular health. 

Improved Lipid Profile

High cholesterol is thought to be a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. While high total cholesterol levels can increase your cardiovascular disease, having abnormally elevated low-density lipoproteins are thought to be a greater threat to your cardiovascular system.

Weight loss programs focusing on nutrient-dense foods and aerobic exercising work well to decrease low-density lipoproteins, which are also known as your "bad cholesterol," while raising your high-density lipoproteins, otherwise referred to as "good cholesterol." Weight loss programs focusing on nutrient-dense foods will also help eliminate the risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, however, if you are on a very low-calorie diet, the weight loss program protocol might call for taking a multivitamin supplement. 

Intraabdominal Fat Loss

If you have large amounts of intraabdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, you may be at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. This type of fat develops deep into your abdomen, often occupying the spaces between your internal organs. This type of fat is different from subcutaneous or superficial fat that is located under the layer of your skin. Visceral fat may negatively affect your renal system, and because of this, may raise your blood pressure.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is an important risk factor for heart disease, however, losing weight can help eliminate visceral fat so that your blood pressure decreases. To effectively get rid of visceral fat, your doctor may recommend choosing a weight loss program that is higher in protein and low in carbohydrates. Aerobic exercise should also be a component of your weight loss program because it helps promote visceral fat loss while promoting optimal circulation and healthy blood pressure.

Increasing your intake of dietary fiber and limiting your intake of alcoholic beverages can also help reduce intraabdominal fat. Heavy alcohol intake can raise your triglycerides, a blood lipid, that like cholesterol, can heighten your risk for heart attack and stroke. 

If you are overweight, talk to a local doctor about your weight-loss program treatment options. Once you have lost weight, you will not only feel better, but your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, degenerative joint disease, and kidney disease may decline.