In This Section      

Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease is a term that refers to narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. The arteries narrow and harden due to the buildup of fat and cholesterol plaque. When one of these plaques break this process can lead to a heart attack, cutting off blood flow to a portion of your heart muscle. According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States has a heart attack every 34 seconds.

Obesity and coronary heart disease

Obesity is associated with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which all increase your risk for coronary heart disease. However, obesity by itself also increases your risk for coronary heart disease independent of all these weight-related conditions.

Risks of coronary heart disease

While physicians and researchers have established a link between obesity and coronary heart disease, you can have one without the other. There are many obese patients who have no signs and symptoms of heart disease and there are many slim and fit patients who suffer from this condition.

Your baseline risk for coronary heart disease

The explanation for why this occurs may lie in the play between genes and our environment, still not completely understood by researchers and physicians. What we do think is that your genes and environment work together to create a baseline risk for coronary heart disease.

If you are obese, there is an additional risk on top of your baseline risk. This is critical to understand, because it demonstrates that if you control your weight you can actually lower your risk of heart disease. While you may not completely eliminate your risk, because of your genes and environment, you can reduce it by losing weight.

Can my coronary heart disease make it harder for me to lose weight?

If you suffer from heart disease that causes strain on the heart, it may make it difficult to exercise. If you have untreated coronary heart disease, or if you have had a heart attack before, an exercise routine may be a challenge.