February 02, 2021

The Impact of Obesity on Your Heart and Joints

man rubbing achy neck

Is your body weight interfering with your cardiovascular and orthopedic health?

Nearly 100 million adults in the U.S. have obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Obesity can increase your risk for a number of medical issues, including problems related to your heart and joints.

Obesity and Your Heart

The relationship between obesity and heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., is two-fold. Obesity increases your risk for several conditions that contribute to heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Additionally, the excess stress obesity places on the body makes obesity a major risk factor for heart disease on its own.

Fortunately, even a modest amount of weight loss can help reduce your risk of developing obesity-related heart and vascular complications. According to Paige Quintero, MD, bariatric surgeon with Baptist Health Medical Group Bariatric Surgery, losing as little as 5% to 10% of your weight can improve both your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. Weight-loss surgery can have an even more drastic effect — decreasing the risk of death within the next five years by as much as 83%.

Concerned about your heart? Take Baptist Health’s Heart Risk Assessment today.

Obesity and Your Joints

Did you know that every pound of body weight you carry translates to about four to six pounds of pressure on each knee? Obesity places a significant amount of stress on your bones and joints and is a major risk factor for several orthopedic issues, including:

  • Bone and joint injuries from physical activity
  • Chronic back pain
  • Chronic foot and ankle overuse disorders, such as Achilles tendinitis (inflammation of the Achilles tendon), flat feet, plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the tissue that connects your toes to the heel bone), and general foot and ankle pain
  • Osteoarthritis (a condition that breaks down the cartilage in the joints, resulting in stiffness, swelling and/or pain)
  • The need for a knee replacement

Losing weight helps lighten the load on your joints, which can lead to improved mobility and a reduction or elimination of chronic pain. It also can affect the outcome of orthopedic procedures, such as joint replacement.

“Approaching a healthy BMI can help you increase the success of your orthopedic surgery and decrease postoperative complications,” Dr. Quintero says. “Patients who are at a healthy weight have a much easier time mobilizing and participating in physical therapy after surgery, which increases the likelihood that they will experience a quicker recovery and more positive results.”

For more information, take our Knee and Joint Pain Assessment to learn more.

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