Obesity and Peripheral Artery Disease

Obesity affects around 40 million people in the United States. 3 million people are morbidly obese. Around 350,000 Americans die each year from obesity related diseases. Diseases like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, cancers, osteoarthritis, liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea etc. are some of the morbid conditions associated with obesity. Apart from these, obesity increases the risk from peripheral artery disease (PAD).

PAD is a condition in which plaque builds up in the blood vessels, namely, the arteries. Plaque is made of mainly fat and cholesterol and sticks to the walls of the arteries narrowing them in the process and inhibiting the flow of blood. It mostly affects the arteries in the lower portion of the body.

PAD affects about 8 million Americans. Obesity is not the only reason causing PAD, but having excess weight in body definitely pre disposes one to such a condition. Four out of five sufferers of PAD are overweight or obese. A study (Framingham Heart Study) had concluded that every 5 point increase in Basal Metabolic Index (BMI) increased the risk of PAD by 40%.

Peripheral Artery Disease

However, other researchers have opined that it is not obesity itself that increases the risk of Peripheral Artery Disease. The other commonly associated conditions with obesity raise the PAD risk.

Conditions which increase the risks of PAD

  • Hypertension

    Obese people are more likely to have high blood pressure than normal healthy counterparts. Obese women are three times more likely to have hypertension than the normal weight category of women.

  • Diabetes Mellitus

    Amputation of legs not related to any trauma is highest in diabetes mellitus. It accounts for 70% of all non traumatic amputations performed.

  • Dyslipidemia

    A condition which is concomitant with obesity is dyslipidemia. It essentially means a low high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good cholesterol) and a high low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol).

  • Abdominal obesity

    According to some studies, an apple shaped body with a greater incidence of belly fat increases the risk of PAD manyfold. The adipose tissue around the abdomen actually works like an endocrine organ. It inhibits the secretion of the protein adiponectin which regulates the metabolism of lipids and glucose. It is anti-inflammatory in nature and goes a long way in preventing the development of plaque in the arteries.

The prognosis of Peripheral Artery Disease is not good and individuals will have a risk of mortality from coronary events like stroke and heart attack.

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