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How to avoid a broken heart

By Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS

It is important for people with weight challenges to be aware of the toll those extra pounds take on the heart muscle and how positively a stressed heart responds to significant weight loss. In overweight people, the heart has to work significantly harder to keep the body fully functional. As you can imagine, the heart starts to wear down after this prolonged overexertion.

The increased demand on the heart forces the heart muscle to increase in size to meet the needs of a larger body. But, unlike building larger muscle mass in other parts of the body, a bigger (enlarged) heart is not a healthier heart. A study by the Cleveland Clinic also found that when confronted with excess fat, the heart has to pump harder to move blood through the body, also causing the size of the heart to increase.

For many people, a diagnosed cardiac problem is the motivating factor in choosing a surgical weight loss solution. And, keep in mind, we are not talking about ‘older people.’ We have helped several patients in their 30’s and 40’s after they survived and recovered from obesity-related heart attacks. Having a bariatric surgical procedure done–and the significant weight loss that follows–can reduce the size of the heart to its natural shape and resume optimal function. In fact, recently one of my patients with about 150 pounds to lose told me that he could hear and feel his heart beating more easily after he had dropped the first 75 pounds.

When you partner this effort with an ongoing cardio fitness regime that strengthens the heart, you’re setting the stage for a long, heart-healthy life. When your heart is humming along, it also helps keep the rest of your organs in check as well. By losing weight and re-establishing normal heart size, you will enjoy enormously positive health benefits for the whole body. Moreover, the sooner your heart muscle can resume a normal size, all of the body’s organs will sustain less long-term damage.

Be kind to your heart—avoid overtaxing it with excess weight and keep it in shape by exercising regularly. It will thank you for many years to come.


Ayotunde Adeyeri, M.D., FASMBS, is a board-certified and fellowship-trained laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgeon and medical director of the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center-Old Bridge. The institute is accredited by the MBSAQIP as a Comprehensive Bariatric Center and provides individualized medical and surgical solutions and support for individuals seeking weight loss, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling. For more information or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, call 855-TIME-4-ME.

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