What are the known health risks of overweight and obesity?
It is well documented that an increasing prevalence of obesity will lead to a significant strain on healthcare services globally, with a range of health risks being linked to obesity. A maintained body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above can significantly increase the risk of a number of cardiovascular diseases. Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a condition in characterised by an accumulation or build-up of a plaque like substance within the coronary arteries (those which supply oxygenated blood to the heart), this can lead to the narrowing of the vessels which can ultimately cause a reduction in blood flow to the heart, leading to angina (chest pain) or myocardial infarction. Stroke is another risk factor associated with a proportionally high body weight. Stroke occurs when the build-up of plaque within the arteries ruptures leading to the formation of blood clots. Blood clots are then able to travel and can reach the brain where they cause a blockage which may result in insufficient oxygenated blood reaching specific areas of the brain. The brain is an extremely specialised organ which requires significant blood oxygen delivery to function. Preventing oxygenated blood reaching the brain for a brief time can cause cell death resulting in the symptoms of stroke (cerebrovascular accident). The severity of the clot and its location within the cerebral arteries can affect the impact of the area of cell death and severity of the resulting stroke symptoms.
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