World Heart Day 2022: Can quick weight loss lead to heart attack? Here's what experts say

Updated on Sep 29, 2022 10:02 AM IST

While weight loss can help reverse heart conditions, shedding kilos too quickly can do the opposite and may worsen the heart function.

World Heart Day 2022: Rapid weight loss can deteriorate your heart function(Pixabay)
World Heart Day 2022: Rapid weight loss can deteriorate your heart function(Pixabay)
By, Delhi

World Heart Day 2022: Shedding kilos and achieving an ideal weight can help reverse a number of chronic health conditions from high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol to even heart ailments. But rapid weight loss can do the opposite and may worsen the heart function let alone improving it. Weight loss for heart health should be done in a healthy, sustainable and steady manner to reap the maximum benefits of it, According to experts, the wrong methods to attain quick weight loss may work against our heart health. For instance fad diets or low-calorie diets can lead to heart function which may eventually lead to heart attack. Excessive exercise to lose kilos is also deterimental to heart health and it is increasingly becoming common for people to suffer heart attack in gyms. (Also read: World Heart Day 2022: Can screaming, losing temper trigger a heart attack? Experts answer)

LOW CALORIE DIETS CAN DAMAGE HEART

"Low-calorie diets or ‘crash or the ‘starvation' diet for a rapid weight loss are becoming very popular these days, There is enough evidence that weight loss in overweight or obese person can reverse the effects of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol on heart, with almost half of the patients being able to stop or reduce the medications. But the effects of crash diets or rapid weight loss on the heart have not been studied very well so far," says Dr Sanjeev Gera – Director & HOD, Cardiology, Fortis Hospital Noida.

WHY FAD DIETS ARE FATAL FOR HEART

Dr Gera explains how a low-calorie diet could lead to heart enlargement and subsequent heart failure.

"The heart muscle prefers fats or sugar as its fuel for effective functioning. It takes up all the fats released into the blood circulation from adipose tissues or organs following a very low-calorie diet. So, rather than improving heart function, it worsens because of more fat than muscle with fewer blood vessels. That can lead to heart enlargement and subsequent heart failure when the heart becomes too weak and unable to meet the requirements of other organs, compromising its functions ultimately.

The sudden drop in heart function rate can lead to fatal heart rate and rhythm problems or arrhythmias, sometimes leading to sudden collapse and even a cardiac arrest. It can also cause low blood pressure due to dehydration and electrolyte loss, further compromising organ functions. Sudden malnutrition can also affect heart wellness," says Dr Gera.

People also take to excessive gymming to lose weight quickly in a short span of time. If you are not used to such routine, your heart function can be affected and this may lead to a heart attack.

"It is very common that people suffer heart attacks while exercising, in the gym or outdoor. While exercise keeps your body in good shape, and also cardiovascular condition, if you’re not accustomed to a difficult routine and you try to do too much too soon, it may disrupt the way your heart pumps blood and oxygen through your system. More people die because of Cardiac arrhythmia. The term "arrhythmia" refers to any change from the normal sequence of electrical impulses. The electrical impulses may happen too fast, too slowly, or erratically–causing the heart to beat too fast, too slowly, or erratically. This causes ineffective blood pumping leading to less blood supply to other vital organs. Always keep checking regularly with a cardiologist before starting or doing any exercise," says Dr. (Mr) Kiran Rukadikar, Bariatric Physician and Obesity Consultant, and founder of DietQueen App.

"Losing weight is a slow and conscience process. Rapid weight loss is not good for your heart. It can cause dehydration, low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance which can further cause arrhythmia, exacerbate heart failure and even cause sudden cardiac arrest in some," says Dr. Aditya Kumar Singh, Sr Consultant & HOD, Adult Cardiac Surgery at Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad.

“Losing weight too fast is putting yourself at risk. Crash diets can lead to irregular heart rate (abnormal electrical activity of heart), fluctuation in heart rate and blood pressure. By missing important nutrients in diet may increase the risk of heart failure. Rapid weight loss can lead to severe dehydration triggering blood clot formation in susceptible individual. This can lead to heart attacks and blood clot formation in great arteries of heart,” says Dr. Vikrant Khese, Consultant Cardiologist, Apollo Clinic.

WEIGHT LOSS FOR HEALTHY HEART

Dr Gera says weight loss should be gradual with the aim of losing around 500 gm every week but with proper care of fluid and nutrient intake.

"Before adopting a very low-calorie diet, one should consult a cardiologist for a safe diet and exercise prescription and also diagnose pre-existing silent heart ailments. Losing extra kilos is always a good idea for heart health but starvation may lead to serious and irreversible heart issues," says Dr Gera.

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