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How does obesity lead to heart disease?
A high body mass index (BMI) can lead to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease is a disease characterised by a build-up of a plaque like substance, composed of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances, within the arteries supplying oxygenated blood to the heart, this is termed Atherosclerosis. The formation of plaque results in the narrowing of the lumen of the arteries (the area within the centre of the vessel) and damage to the inner arterial wall which can result in a reduction in the flow of oxygen rich blood to the heart. As with all muscles, the heart requires sufficient oxygen to function and as such, a reduction in oxygenated blood to the heart can cause the muscle to cease function, resulting in myocardial infarction (heart attack). Prior to a complete blockage of the artery supplying blood to the heart, the influx of plaques can result in an increase in blood pressure, and the formation of blood clots due to the reduction in the flow space within the artery, this can result in additional health conditions such as stroke. There have been a significant number of studies which stipulate that an inherently unhealthy diet, high in cholesterol and a lack of exercise can lead to an increased chance of arterial plaque formation.
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