Will losing weight reduce my risk of heart failure?
So far, no clinical trial has tested the effect of losing weight on your risk of heart failure. Obesity contributes to many heart failure risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing weight lowers your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improves your physical endurance, making it easier to stay physically active. Obesity also directly affects your heart by making it work harder to pump blood. Losing the excess weight reduces the extra strain placed on your heart.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important aspect of reducing your risk of developing heart failure. To minimize your risk, aim for:
- A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9
- A waist circumference of 35 inches or less
- A waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 or less
- A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) on most—preferably all—days of the week
How can I lose weight?
To learn about your options for losing weight and reducing the associated heart failure risks, see our Weight Loss Guide.
I'm overweight, but I'm fit. Do I still need to lose weight?
You may have heard of the "fit versus fat" debate, which argues that it doesn't matter if you are overweight or obese as long as you are fit. Several studies have shown that exercising reduces the health risks of being overweight or obese even if you don't lose weight.38 However, while being fit may lower your risk, you will still have a higher chance of developing heart failure than someone who isn't overweight. Being fit doesn't cancel out the dangers of being overweight. In one study of more than 116,000 women, obese women who were active for at least 3½ hours a week had a lower risk of heart disease than obese women who were inactive, but still had 3 times the risk of active women who were a healthy weight.39 Regular exercise lowers your risk of heart failure even if you don't lose weight, but to minimize your risk you will also need to shed the extra pounds.
What about weight gain during pregnancy?
When a woman is pregnant, it is normal for her to gain weight. The recommended weight gain during pregnancy depends on your weight before you became pregnant. Women who are of normal weight should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Overweight women should only gain 15 to 25 pounds, and obese women should gain no more than 15 pounds.40
For More Information
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