How to Improve Heart Health Through Physical Activity

How to Improve Heart Health Through Physical Activity

How to Improve Heart Health Through Physical Activity

A topic which is close to our hearts, here at Weight Loss Solutions Sunshine Coast is heart disease. It is the number one killer in Australia, and it impacts obese people in even greater ratios. Every year, the Heart Foundation’s Heart Week brings awareness to heart-related issues, and what we can do to prevent them. This year the national campaign (29 April – 5 May) is around the importance of physical activity for preventing heart disease. So want to know how to improve your heart health, and what is the optimal level of physical activity? We explain this and examine some of the ways you can achieve that level every day for great heart health.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the most common cause of heart attacks. Your coronary arteries narrow, reducing the flow of blood to your heart. The narrowing is caused by fatty deposits or plaque building up in your arteries, called atherosclerosis. This can be either stable plaque, causing a condition called angina. It can also be unstable plaque. The Heart Foundation explains unstable plaque, and the physical process which takes place during and prior to a heart attack:

“Unstable plaque has more fat, a thin cap and is inflamed. It may not severely narrow the artery, but it can develop a crack on the surface, exposing the contents of the plaque to the blood. Blood cells try to seal the gap in the surface with a blood clot. The blood clot partially or completely blocks the artery.

A heart attack occurs when a blood clot completely blocks the flow of blood and seriously reduces blood flow to the heart muscle.”

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease, some of which you can’t change such as your age, sex and family history. However, there are many more risk factors which are preventable. These include:

  • •Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Poor diet
  • Depression

Why are obese people at greater risk?

Many obese people fall into more than one risk factor category. The more your body mass index increases over the healthy range, the more likely you are to be experiencing co-morbid diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet, inactivity and sometimes depression. This greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease and experiencing a heart attack.

How to improve heart health.

While you can’t reverse heart disease it can be prevented, so understanding risk factors and acting on reducing them early in life is a great advantage. Regardless of your age, it is important to have your heart checked regularly by your doctor, to ensure your heart health over time. Your doctor can explain your risk factors, and help you take action to reduce them. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes, or you may need to take a plan of action to reduce cholesterol. If you are obese or even if you have recently gained weight, bringing this up with your doctor is always a good idea. They can measure your body mass index (BMI) and let you know if you are in a healthy range for your height, age and weight. You can also check your BMI here.

How can activity help?

Exercise and physical activity are crucial to heart health. National Spokesperson for the Heart Foundation, Professor Trevor Shilton says that exercise is a “wonder drug” for preventing illness and chronic diseases. But it doesn’t always have to be intense workouts to be beneficial for your heart.

Professor Shilton told 3AW this week that 30 minutes of physical activity per day reduces your risk of heart disease by about 35 percent.

“People think you need to run a half-marathon or bust your boiler at the gym. While that is good if you enjoy it, for most of us it’s actually about getting off the couch and onto the footpath and brisk walking around your neighbourhood is what your heart needs for your health….
…For most Australian adults weight is something which creeps up on you and exercise is very important for preventing that through our adult life.”

Tips for moving more

The Heart Foundation says you don’t need to spend money, you just need to find an activity you enjoy. They also recommend reducing the amount of time you sit during the day, as being a great way to look after your heart health, with their slogan “Don’t Get the Sits.” Here are some good ideas to get moving:

Walking, running, jumping rope, dancing or swimming in the ocean may interest you…and they are all free.

Maybe you could get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way, run in the park with your kids rather than watching them play, turn up the music and boogie to your housework, take the stairs or walk the escalator.

Grab your friends and get them moving too. Being active with friends is a great way to enjoy movement and keep yourself motivated.

But what if you’re already obese and haven’t been able to lose weight or are at the point where you are unable to increase physical activity, or it’s not reducing your weight?

Weight loss surgery and heart disease

If you are obese you may be struggling in vain to lose weight and excess weight may be severely impacting your health. In some cases, weight loss surgery may be an option. In more and more cases in Australia, bariatric surgery is not about “getting skinny” but is a life-saving procedure. Surgical weight loss is about reducing weight and encouraging metabolic changes which increase longevity, activity, and introduce a healthier relationship with food, as well as reduce your risk of co-morbid diseases such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Weight loss is often a lifetime struggle, and one which if not resolved will shorten that life. Removing the stigma in the community that bariatric surgery is about vanity, or is a ‘lazy weight loss option’ will help to encourage those at risk to seek the help they need.

Wonder if you qualify for weight loss surgery?

Find out more about the criteria, and whether it’s right for you.

Can Sleep Apnea Be Cured With Weight Loss Surgery?

Can Sleep Apnea Be Cured With Weight Loss Surgery?

Weight loss surgery decisions are rarely only cosmetic-related. Some people who are considering bariatric surgery are experiencing serious medical problems connected to their excess weight. Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Apnoea (OSA) is often associated with obesity. This is a condition where you stop breathing during your sleep. It’s a pretty dangerous condition and can lead to reduced mental alertness on a daily basis, as well as increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke or depression in the long term. Can sleep apnea be cured?

sleep apnea

We examine the causes of and treatments for this condition, and the efficacy of weight loss surgery as a treatment for OSA in many cases where excess weight is a factor.

This week is Sleep Awareness Week (3-9 July 2017). The Sleep Health Foundation is partnering with CRC for Alertness, Safety & Productivity to focus this year on Better sleep=smarter, safer workplaces. Chronic poor sleep can lead to driving and workplace accidents through drowsiness, as well as reduced productivity. Along with obesity, the rates of sleep disorders like sleep apnoea are increasing in our modern world. Insufficient sleep is now recognised as a public health problem that according to research by the Sleep Health Foundation, is costing Australia more than $5 billion per year.

What are the rates of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

It is estimated that approximately 9-21% of women and 24-31% of men experience some form of OSA. Studies show that the prevalence of OSA is “over double among the obese,” Sleep epidemiology–a rapidly growing field.

How does obesity cause sleep apnoea?

The Sleep Health Foundation explains why many with OSA are overweight:

“Being overweight can cause a narrowing of the throat due to fatty tissue. Also, having a large waistline can make the lungs smaller during the night, which makes the throat more likely to collapse.”

Can OSA be treated?

There are a number of ways you can treat OSA. In moderate to severe cases, this is absolutely essential to prevent further health complications. Two of the most common ways to treat OSA include:

  • A nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask which covers your nose and holds your throat open during the night while you sleep.
  • An oral appliance fitted by a specialist dentist.

Should these methods fail, there are also several surgical operations your specialist may offer you.

Can sleep apnea be cured?

Whilst therapies like CPAP or oral devices work well to treat OSA, they can’t cure it. Surgery for OSA addresses the underlying cause – either by removing excess tissue from the nose and throat, or weight loss surgery. Your decision to have surgery will depend on the severity of your OSA and its impact on your daily life and overall health. You can find out more about various surgeries for OSA on the Sleep Health Foundation website.

If you are obese, you may consider weight loss surgery. Weight loss has shown to improve OSA. As well, it can reduce other health problems you may be experiencing such as hypertension, diabetes, heart problems and more. The positive impact of bariatric surgery on OSA has been studied many times. In a recent abstract “The impact of bariatric surgery on obstructive sleep apnea: a systematic review” 69 studies of 13,900 bariatric patients was reviewed. The abstract concluded that over 75% of patients saw at least an improvement in their OSA.

Will weight loss surgery cure my OSA?

In cases where weight is the only underlying cause, weight loss through surgery can relieve OSA. Improvement in OSA symptoms is one of the first things many (but not all) of our bariatric patients notice in the weeks after surgery.

Despite the positive impact, we would generally advise patients to exercise caution with OSA therapies following weight loss surgery. They should continue to monitor their condition with their specialist. Other anatomical differences may also be contributing to OSA. In this case, whilst weight reduction would improve OSA, it may never reverse it completely, and you may still require your CPAP or oral appliance.

Sleep apnoea or sleep apnea?

The United States uses apnea, whilst the United Kingdom uses apnoea. In Australia, both spellings are used to describe the condition in various contexts.

For more information on sleep and your health visit the  Sleep Health Foundation website.

Are you curious about how weight loss surgery could change your life?

Weight loss can have positive results on your health and wellbeing. Visit our website to find out more about our procedures for patients across the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast region.

Obesity and Other Risk Factors for Bowel Cancer

Obesity and Other Risk Factors for Bowel Cancer

Did you know that if you are overweight or obese, you have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer? June is Bowel Cancer Australia’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, and year on year it’s increasing. As both general surgeons who operate on the gastrointestinal tract, and specialist bariatric surgeons, this issue is an important one for us. We take a look at the risk factors for bowel cancer, and the symptoms you need to be aware of which could save your life.

obesity risks for bowel cancer

The Facts about Bowel Cancer

According to Bowel Cancer Australia at present 14,962 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Australia every year. By 2020, it’s predicted we will reach 20,000. It is also the second biggest cancer killer, claiming 4,162 lives every year. This is because often the symptoms go undiagnosed until it’s too late.

What is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer. Many growths in the colon or rectum begin as polyps. These are benign lumps on the wall or lining of the bowel. Whilst many are harmless, some can turn into malignant growths.

So What Are The Risk Factors for Bowel Cancer?

Your chances of developing bowel cancer may increase if you:

  • Have a family history of bowel cancer, or inherited gene mutations
  • Are over 50 (although you can never be too young).
  • Have inflammatory bowel diseases and ulcerative colitis
  • Obesity

As well, a whole host of other diet and lifestyle factors are risk factors for bowel cancer, such as:

  • High red meat consumption
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Bowel Cancer Australia states your risk of bowel cancer can increase by 2 per cent per BMI unit over your optimal weight.

“Studies show convincing evidence that:
i. greater body fatness is a cause of bowel cancer (2% increased risk per kg/m2);
ii. abdominal fatness is a cause of bowel cancer (17% increased risk with increased waist to hip ratio)

Bowel Cancer Australia Increased Bowel Cancer Risk

For example, if you are a BMI of 40, then you are 30% more likely to develop colorectal cancer than someone who is not overweight.

Obesity and Cancer Rates.

In addition to being one of the risk factors for bowel cancer, being obese also increases your risk of developing other cancers. According to a U.S. National Cancer Institute report on Obesity and Cancer, obesity has been shown in observational studies to increase your risk of developing:

  • Endometrial cancer
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Gastric cardia cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Meningioma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

What are the Bowel Cancer Symptoms I Need to Watch Out For?

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, not all bowel cancers show symptoms and experiencing symptoms does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer. However, you should see your doctor if you notice:

  • bleeding from the back passage or any sign of blood after a bowel motion;
  • a change in usual bowel habit, such as straining (constipation) to go to the toilet or loose motions (diarrhoea)
  • abdominal pain or bloating;
  • weight loss for no obvious reason, or loss of appetite
  • symptoms of anaemia – including unexplained tiredness, weakness or breathlessness.

How Do I Decrease My Risk For Bowel Cancer?

Overall, a healthy lifestyle is your best defence against bowel cancer. Giving up smoking, reducing your intake of alcohol, and adopting an exercise routine can decrease your risk. As well, improving your diet, including plenty of fibre-rich foods and reducing the level of red and processed meat you consume can help.

If you are overweight or obese, a serious talk with your doctor on the best approaches to weight loss will help you decrease your risk of bowel cancer, and indeed, many cancers. For those people who are at high risk of obesity-related diseases, or who are morbidly obese, bariatric surgery can be a life-saving option. You can find out more about whether you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery here.

Early Detection Can Save Your Life

“90 per cent of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if found early. Fewer than 40% are detected early,” Bowel Cancer Australia.

Regardless of your age, if you are unsure if your bowel symptoms are normal, book a check-up with your G.P. A bowel cancer screen test is widely available and is worth asking for if you have symptoms or a family history, or for anyone over 50 years of age.

For more information, a great place to start is the Bowel Cancer Australia website, and of course have a chat with your G.P. about your risk factors, family history and symptoms.


Getting to the Heart of Obesity-Related Hypertension

Getting to the Heart of Obesity-Related Hypertension

Did you know that close to one in four Australians has high blood pressure? This week is the Heart Foundation’s Heart Week (30 April – 6 May 2017). The topic on the agenda this year, is Hypertension, the medical term for constant high blood pressure. Hypertension is recognised as one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Studies have also shown a close relationship between hypertension and obesity. We examine how hypertension relates to your heart health. We also see how obesity can make you more at risk of hypertension. Finally, we look at your options for preventing, managing and treating obesity-related hypertension.
The topic of high blood pressure is often on the agenda with patients, for both our general surgery and bariatric practices. It is one of those early warning signs – in any person – that your health needs attention. Because in many people, hypertension can be prevented or treated, having your G.P. take your blood pressure is one of the best health checks you can partake in regularly.
hypertension measure blood pressure

Causes of and Treatments for High Blood Pressure

In some people, hypertension has a specific medical cause, and once treated they can be cured. But in most other people, age and or lifestyle factors have caused hypertension. Medications can play a significant role in treating hypertension, and often people with a tendency to hypertension will be on medication for life. But medications can only go so far. Lifestyle modification is also an important part of treatment.

For many people, their G.P. will also prescribe a better diet, including a restricted sodium and higher potassium intake. They will insist sufferers give up smoking if they do so. In addition, they will encourage them to get more active with an exercise program and to reduce stress in daily life. These aspects all help to reduce blood pressure in hypertension sufferers. (1)

The problem is, controlling hypertension in an obese patient becomes more difficult.

About Obesity-Related Hypertension

It has been noted that blood pressure increases as body mass index increases. A 2013 study Treatment of Hypertension in Obese Patients found that for every 10% increase in body weight, systolic blood pressure is estimated to increase by 6.5mmHg (2).  So it is evident that increasing body weight increase your risk of developing hypertension.

Firstly, the study also shows, and in our own experience, obese patients can be at a greater risk of being resistant to the medication required or may require more medication at higher doses to control high blood pressure (3).

Secondly, following the general guidelines for managing blood pressure can be difficult for someone who is obese. If you are a person with a body mass index of 40 or more, the advice to ‘get moving and lose a little weight,’ whilst still valid, can be incredibly difficult to achieve. We recognise that for many patients obesity is the disease which must be addressed, well before hypertension.

Surgical Treatment

For those people who are morbidly obese, hypertension can co-exist with other life-threatening obesity-related health issues. These can include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnoea, back and joint problems, depression and even some cancers.

Metabolic surgery can intervene to reverse some obesity-related diseases, and in particular, it has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing obesity-related hypertension.

A review of 33 studies involving 3,997 patients showed that on average, 75% of patients experienced resolution or improvement of their hypertension after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) surgery.

“Based on our systematic review, LSG has a significant effect on hypertension, inducing resolution or improvement in the majority of cases. Therefore, LSG remains a viable surgical option in obese patients with hypertension,” the 2013 review concluded (4).

We believe addressing excess weight and obesity has nothing to do with appearance, and everything to do with living a long, healthy life. Surgery is a life-saving choice for many patients who cannot lose weight with diet and exercise alone and should be viewed that way.

Don’t Forget to Check!

It must be noted, that although obese people are at a higher risk, high blood pressure can happen to anyone. Most times the symptoms of Hypertension are silent but can be managed if caught early. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to a heart attack; stroke; heart disease and kidney disease. So don’t forget to reach out and have a heart this week, encouraging someone you love to get their blood pressure checked. You could just save their life!

For more information, visit the Heart Foundation’s Heart Week website.


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