One serious condition related to overweight and obesity is heart failure. Many doctors have stated that regardless of other chronic health conditions, the excess pounds seem to be a dominant player in this heart injury.

Heart failure is the hearts’ inability to keep up with the demands placed on it. It is projected that one in five adults may have heart failure by 2030. In a study done at Johns Hopkins University, researchers measured troponin levels (the enzyme released with a heart injury) in more than 9,500 adults between the ages of 53-73 that were considered “free of heart disease.”

The results of the study indicated that those with a higher weight level had higher troponin levels and those in the highest weight category developed heart failure within 12 years of the study. This made those with overweight and obesity problems nine times more likely to develop heart failure than those without weight challenges.

Dr. Ndumele from Johns Hopkins recommends following these steps to reduce your risk of heart failure:

  • Try to lose weight (if overweight/obese) or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Have your heart risk assessed by a professional. For example, body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels.
  • Be mindful of the risk factors of heart failure: some of these include fatigue, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat.
  • Realize that any portion of weight loss or management helps. It is said that for every 5-point increase in body mass index, the risk of heart failure can rise by 32%.

Many of these recommendations may require individuals to adopt healthy lifestyle changes which matches the mission of Northern Hearts, a local non-profit charity focussing on reducing heart disease in Northwestern Ontario.

If your goal is to lose weight, start by adding more water, vegetables, and fruit to your “menu” each week. Northern Hearts prefers the term menu over the term diet, as it is believed to have a less negative connotation attached to it when thinking of lifestyle changes. You may also want to start with walking 3-5 times a week and slowly advance to walking every day. Consider adding other lifestyle adjustments to support your weight loss goal such as reducing your alcohol intake, cutting down on tobacco use, and limiting processed foods (e.g., sugary cereals, chips, bacon). Nonetheless, it is the small changes that will add up to make a big difference later on.

To conclude, proper weight management is a lifestyle choice that will not only benefit your overall health but could ultimately save your life.

For more information on the Johns Hopkins study summarized below, please access this link:

Submitted by: Kayla Waddington, Program Coordinator, Northern Hearts