How are obesity and heart disease related?

Medical consultation by doctor:

Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Anh Tuan, MD, PhD

Deputy Director
Digestive Surgery Institute


Obesity is always a challenging issue in medicine, as this chronic condition not only affects the psychological well-being of the individual but also significantly impacts human health. Many dangerous cardiovascular diseases are linked to obesity. Let’s explore these connections with Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Anh Tuan, MD, PhD.


Suffering from obesity not only affects the aesthetic appearance of individuals but also leads to various diseases. The relationship between obesity and heart diseases is closely intertwined, and many cardiovascular diseases are caused by obesity.

obesity and heart disease 1

Many cardiovascular diseases are caused by obesity


2. How can obesity impact cardiovascular diseases through different pathways?

Obesity can affect the cardiovascular system through two main pathways:

  • Direct impact: Excessive accumulation of fats in the body contributes directly to conditions such as the dilation of the atria, ventricles, and arterial plaque formation, leading directly to heart diseases.
  • Indirect impact: Increased body fat can indirectly affect the cardiovascular system by promoting conditions like sleep apnea, blood clotting, and exacerbating metabolic disorders—major risk factors for heart diseases, including lipid disorders, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.


3. How does obesity contribute to arterial plaque formation?

Obesity promotes the risk of systemic inflammation, and conversely, inflammatory conditions can stimulate fat production in the body.


4. Among cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death. Why can obesity lead to coronary artery diseases?

Chronic inflammation, coupled with the accumulation of lower abdominal fat, is closely related to the presence, severity, and progression of coronary artery disease.

Normal adipose tissue cells function similarly to brown fat cells, helping burn fatty acids and nourish nearby tissues. They release adiponectin, reducing inflammation and arterial plaque formation in coronary arteries and the heart muscle.

In contrast, lower abdominal fat in obese individuals is more prone to breakdown, releasing fatty acids and causing inflammation. In obesity, the reduced secretion of adiponectin and the release of pro-inflammatory adipokines contribute to the infiltration of macrophages, destroying microvascular systems, and activating fibrotic pathways—coronary arteries being the primary and most severe location of consequences.

obesity and heart disease 2

Obesity makes the heart work harder

When the body is obese, the heart has to work harder and be under more stress. Prolonged conditions like these can lead to heart failure.

Obesity often exists in two forms:

  • For men: Excess fat tends to concentrate in the abdomen.
  • For women: Excess fat accumulates more in the buttocks and thighs.

Cardiologists typically recommend that men maintain a waist-to-hip ratio below 90%, and women should keep it below 80%. However, it is entirely possible to address obesity to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


5. How to control obesity?

If you unfortunately suffer from overweight or obesity, there’s no need to be overly concerned. To reduce the risk of heart diseases caused by obesity, consider the following methods:

  • Weight loss: This is the first and most crucial step in the fight against obesity and related heart diseases. You will notice significant changes in your body when you lose at least 5 kg. Blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and inflammatory factors will begin to decrease. It’s essential to strictly adhere to a reasonable diet, such as consuming plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, or foods from fish, meat, legumes, walnuts, and low-fat dairy.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Both alcohol and beer are stimulants that not only harm overall health but also increase the risk of obesity and heart diseases. Therefore, if you have a habit of drinking alcohol or beer, it’s best to limit them.
  • Regular exercise: Spend at least 30-60 minutes daily performing suitable exercises according to your health condition. These exercises include running, swimming, cycling, and aerobic activities. They are particularly effective in burning excess body fat, increasing muscle mass, helping you regain a balanced figure, and maintaining a healthy heart.

obesity and heart disease 3

Regular exercise will help keep the heart healthy


Obesity not only affects aesthetics but is also the root cause of many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, controlling weight and early screening for related diseases are essential. The complications of obesity on the heart should not be underestimated.

Kiểm Duyệt Nội Dung

Ban Biên Tập | Website

More than 10 years of marketing communications experience in the medical and health field.

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