Being overweight can have severe impacts on overall health. The older a patient gets, the more likely the extra weight gain can be detrimental. Every system in the body is affected by being overweight. The cardiovascular system has to work overtime. The lungs have a harder time getting air. The endocrine system has a harder time processing sugar.

Unfortunately, as humans age, it already becomes harder for the body to do normal things. Being overweight becomes absolutely dangerous at this stage. In fact, many patients with weight problems can expect to have shorter life spans. This is no laughing matter. There are several severe consequences to being overweight.

Heart

The strain on the heart caused by being overweight can cause some real problems. Risks of heart attacks and strokes increase. The arteries of the body can harden, making it difficult to pump blood to the body. Additionally, obesity is often caused by personal habits. Those habits, such as overeating, can also lead to heart complications. If the patient is a chronic overeater, it may be difficult to break those habits. That means that many patients will literally eat themselves to death rather than change their habits.

The mayo clinic has listed obesity as a main cause of heart failure. This is so widely accepted in the medical community that it is usually assumed that people who are overweight are extremely likely to have heart complications and short life spans.

Pancreas

Being overweight is also harmful on the pancreas. This important organ is responsible for processing sugar. All carbohydrates that enter the body are processed as sugar. The pancreas breaks down food. Diabetes is the result of a faulty pancreas. Diseases of the pancreas are extremely dangerous. Unlike hearts and lungs, it is impossible to get an artificial pancreas. Donor organs are uncommon. Although there is insulin available to help with some of the functions of the pancreas, this is an expensive and life-long process.

Many credible sources link being overweight with problems in the pancreas. This is coupled with lifestyle factors as well. One good solution to both the weight problems and the potential pancreas problems is to limit consumption of processed sugars like soda and candy. Moderation is key on all sugar. This is the best way to prevent these problems.

Brain

It is not hard to see why being overweight has an influence on heart function. However, being overweight also affects the brain. A recent article in Psychology Today cites being overweight as a leading cause of stroke, sleep apnea, depression, and early brain degeneration. That is a lot of side effects for simply being overweight. The poor diet associated with being overweight also contributes to cloudy memory, lack of motivation, and general feelings of tiredness.

There has also been more recent discussion about the concept of the brain blood barrier. This is how the things that go into the body can impact the brain. There are some concerns that medication associated with treatment of diseases such as heart disease and high blood pressure may not be the healthiest things for the brain. In fact, any material that is not a natural food source is not wonderful for the brain. Unfortunately, people who are overweight also seem to be on a variety of medication.

Muscles and Bones

It makes sense that weight has an impact on muscles and bones. This can create problems such as a repressed spine or damaged knees over long periods of time. Older people may have a harder time recovering from these surgeries. General back and neck pain, as well as foot pain, can also be a consequence of being overweight. This can make mobility difficult.

Mobility gets more difficult as the body ages. Being overweight may directly lead to a person not being able to take care of themselves. Older people may be forced to move into assisted care facilities. Many overweight people may need walkers or wheelchairs sooner than people of a normal size. Hip and joint problems can make simple functions like using the restroom more difficult. Weight is difficult on the muscles and bones, and this usually leads to a negative impact on the person’s life.

It is true that people of all sizes are beautiful. However, that does not account for the health risks associated with being overweight. Unfortunately, the risks get higher the older the patient is. Treatment centers like Maplewood of Sauk Prairie can greatly help individuals dealing with the complications of being overweight. These centers can help loved ones learn to maintain their weight in order to live long and healthy lives.

As we move through all of the stages in life, certain health conditions can become more pervasive.  One condition that often falls ‘under the radar’ and, in fact, many people have not even heard of is metabolic syndrome.

metabolic syndrome in the aging populationMetabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and a variety of other health problems, such as stroke and diabetes.

Your risk for stroke, diabetes and heart disease increases with the number of metabolic risk factors you have. The risk of having metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight and obesity and a lack of physical activity.

Insulin resistance also may increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body can’t use its insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into cells where it’s used for energy. Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, and it’s closely linked to overweight and obesity. Genetics (ethnicity and family history) and older age are other factors that may play a role in causing metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic Risk Factors

The five conditions described below are metabolic risk factors. You can have any one of these risk factors by itself, but they tend to occur together. You must have at least three of the following metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

  • An  increased waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity. Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.
  • A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.
  • A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.
  • High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.
  • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

For those that believe they may have undiagnosed metabolic syndrome, it is wise to speak with your healthcare provider.  You can work together to help to manage your health issues, allowing you to live a longer, more healthy life.