Carrying excess pounds affects your health in these ways.
- It's a major risk factor for heart disease. It's also linked to stroke and death from heart-related causes.
- It increases strain on your heart.
- It contributes to angina and sudden death from heart disease.
- It increases your risk for diabetes and high blood pressure, both risk factors for heart disease.
- It increases triglycerides.
- It increases LDL cholesterol, known as the bad cholesterol.
- It decreases HDL cholesterol, known as the good cholesterol.
Carrying extra weight increases your risk for other conditions, too, including:
- certain types of cancer
- the painful joint disease called gout
- gallbladder disease and gallstones
- interrupted breathing during sleep, called sleep apnea
Being overweight is the biggest lifestyle factor associated with high blood pressure. It also puts you at increased risk for diabetes and high blood cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease. If you're overweight, you may fear that you can't shed enough pounds to make a difference in your blood pressure. But it's very likely that you can, because when it comes to weight loss, a little bit goes a long way. Losing excess weight is the best way, aside from taking medication, to lower high blood pressure. In fact, losing as little as 10 pounds can reduce blood pressure in many people. If you take medicine to control your high blood pressure, losing weight may lower your blood pressure further. As a result, your doctor may be able to lower your dose or even take you off your medication.