Overweight? Don’t Avoid the Doctor

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If you’re overweight and avoiding finding a physician to see regularly, you could be putting your heart at risk.

Right now, one in three Americans are obese, and those numbers are growing steadily. Since 1988, the average American has gained between 15-17 pounds. If that trend continues, almost 43% of Americans will be obese by 2018. Obesity comes at a huge cost to a person’s health, increasing their risk of diabetes, stroke, cancer, reproductive issues, gallstones, and, by far the most terrifying, hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is three times more likely for someone who is obese than it is for someone who is a healthy weight. Blood pressure is the measure of how forcefully blood is pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. When blood pressure is high, it means blood is pushing too hard against the artery walls. This can cause damage over time and lead to the build of plaque which causes coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease inhibits the flow of oxygenated blood through the body due to plaque buildup in the arteries. An estimated 80 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease, but coronary heart disease is the most common, killing nearly 380,000 people annually. Every 33 seconds someone in the United States dies from heart disease, which means more people die of heart disease than of AIDS and all cancers combined. Even if you’ve been told you have a normal cholesterol level, your heart could still be at risk. 50% of people who suffer their first heart attack have a normal cholesterol value, which is why finding a physician who can help set you on the right track is so important.

The importance of routine check ups is doubled for people who are overweight. Finding a doctor is as easy as searching “doctors in my area” online or asking friends and family what doctor they see. After you find a doctor, make sure you’re prepared for the appointment by brining a list of your current medications and any questions or concerns you might have.

Should you be at risk for hypertension or coronary heart disease, you may be referred to a cardiologist. Questions to ask a cardiologist might include “How can I lower my blood pressure?” and “What can I do to decrease my risk of heart disease or the buildup of plaque?”

Though you may not want to face the music when it comes to your health, finding a physician and seeing them regularly is imperative. It can save your heart from deadly consequences.

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