How Your Weight Affects Your Heart Health

Neeru Singh, MD
February 22, 2021
4 Min

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States? It’s a scary, but true, statistic.  One in 4 women in the United States will die of heart disease.

There are endless factors that can affect your heart health and not all of these factors are within your control. But there’s one factor that is, and it’s a big one—your weight. 

What is Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to a buildup of plaque on the arteries’ inner walls. Plaque is the accumulation of fat, cholesterol, and other substances. 

As plaque continues to build up in the arteries, blood flow to the heart is reduced. This can cause a plethora of issues. Heart attacks happen when the arteries become completely blocked and can no longer deliver oxygen and vital nutrients to the heart muscle, which causes the heart muscle to die and can result in overall heart failure, arrhythmias, or even death.

Healthy Weight. Healthy Heart.

So what does weight have to do with heart disease? Obesity is associated with many risk factors that can lead to heart disease including high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Obesity can serve as a warning that your organs might be in trouble, and you’re likely at risk of an unhealthy heart. Research shows that central belly fat, or an increase in waist to hip ratio, also translates to an increase in the type of fat that encases your internal organs and is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Here are a few ways to improve your heart health by improving your lifestyle and focusing on a heart-healthy weight.

Make heart-healthy food choices by:

  • Cutting back on sugar, especially added sugar. Fruits and veggies are a great replacement for sweets.
  • Reaching for low-sodium options. And pass on that extra sprinkling of salt when you’re cooking.
  • Reading labels and avoiding ‘trans fat.’ Cut back on fatty foods in general. If you have the access and capability, you can generally avoid trans fats by purchasing whole foods to eat.

Ramp up a regular exercise routine. 

  • Get moving! The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combination of both spread throughout the week). 
  • Stand up against sitting! You’ll be surprised how much you’re sitting during the day once you actively take a stand against sedentary days.
  • Start slow and steady. Increase activity and intensity over time, so it becomes a habit you can sustain (and you’ll prevent injury more easily with this approach).
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your body. Talk to your provider about what is an ideal healthy weight for your body type. They can refer you to a nutritional specialist who can help get you started on your weight loss journey. 

Drink water.

  • When you’re well-hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard. 
  • Adequate hydration varies depending on things like weather, clothing, and activity level. Make sure you’re getting enough water and use your daily intake goal as an opportunity to sub alcohol and sugary drinks for good ol’ H2O.
  • Monitor your hydration level by checking on the color of your urine. Yep, if your pee is dark, that’s a sign you’re dehydrated. If it’s clear, that’s a sign you’re drinking the water you need.

Women's Health and Wellness at Carbon Health

No matter where you are on your life journey, Carbon Health’s healthcare providers are here to help support you through all your women’s healthcare needs. Book an appointment today to talk to a provider about what you’re going through and they will be there to help, support, and guide you every step of the way.


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Neeru Singh, MD

Neeru Singh, MD, is a Medical Director at Carbon Health. As a primary care physician, she enjoys educating and guiding patients on important health decisions.


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