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Understanding Chronic Obesity

Understanding Chronic Obesity

A chronic disease is one that lasts for three months or longer: Many chronic diseases are lifelong and, while they may not have a cure, you can engage in chronic disease management in order to minimize symptoms and slow the progression of a chronic disease. 

Health experts consider obesity to be a chronic disease. Losing weight is a slow-moving and demanding process for many individuals with weight challenges, and obesity is a long-term health issue with various disease risks and some debilitating complications. 

Our internist and obesity expert Sohan Varma, MD, provides educational information on chronic obesity and can help you manage or prevent any related health complications at Washington Internal Medicine in Chantilly, California. 

Here are a few facts to know about chronic obesity:

There are many different causes

While you might think of obesity strictly in terms of diet content and exercise habits, it isn’t always so simple. There are often genetic factors, hormonal factors, and metabolism-related factors at play. There are also certain medications that can make it particularly difficult to manage your weight. 

Dr. Varma explores all of the possible causes and contributing factors in your case. Answering the question of what’s causing your weight challenges helps Dr. Varma develop a personalized plan for managing your weight while improving your overall health and wellness. 

The cardiovascular consequences are severe

A higher body fat percentage correlates with many different types of cardiovascular diseases and dysfunction. Obesity puts you at risk for atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and heart failure. 

When you have long-term unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle, fatty deposits can build up along the inner walls of your veins and arteries. This makes them narrower and adds resistance against your blood flow. This reduces blood flow to the heart, which puts you at risk of a heart attack. 

Mobility may decline

Chronic obesity leaves you at risk of certain health conditions that limit your mobility, particularly osteoarthritis and other joint problems. Having excess body fat places stress on your joints, leaving them increasingly vulnerable to damage that makes them stiff and painful. In extreme cases, obesity leaves you bedridden. 

Exercise plays an important role in most weight loss plans. Not only does it help you burn calories; it can help you maintain the mobility of damaged joints. Plus, you can start out at a low level of exercise that isn’t beyond your capability. 

Chronic obesity can affect your breathing

Even if you’re a lifelong nonsmoker, don’t have any chronic breathing conditions like asthma, and have had little to no exposure to harmful chemical fumes, obesity alone can start to impact your respiratory function. Of course, those other factors worsen the risk if they apply to you, but you should still be aware of the respiratory risks of having excess body fat. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a respiratory condition characterized by pauses in breathing and limited oxygen intake during sleep. This often happens because of excess fat or tissue around the throat, which causes your airways to collapse when you relax. 

In extreme cases, excess body fat in obese individuals can place chronic pressure on the lungs, causing new or worsening breathing restrictions.

Ready to learn more?

If you have more questions or concerns about chronic obesity and its impact on your life, schedule an appointment over the phone or online at Washington Internal Medicine today.

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