Coronary Heart Disease And Weight

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a disease that occurs due to a buildup of fatty plaques inside vessels that provide blood and oxygen to the heart. The plaques consist of cholesterol that affects the normal blood flow and consequently weakens the heart muscles, causing arrhythmia or heart failure. Obesity is one of the risk factors for developing CHD. Studies suggest that about 80% of people who are obese or overweight develop CHD.1,2

What is coronary heart disease?

CHD is also called coronary artery disease, which is characterised by the limited ability of arteries to supply blood and oxygen to the heart. The arteries of the heart became narrow due to the blockage caused by the formation of fatty plaques. This formation of fatty plaque is called atherosclerosis. Plaque formation in the inner lining of arteries affects the blood supply to the heart, which weakens the muscles of the heart and causes chest pain and increased heartbeat, potentially leading to permanent heart failure if untreated.3  

Obesity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease

Obesity is defined as a chronic condition in which an excessive amount of fat accumulates in the body, negatively affecting health and increasing the chance of other diseases. Obesity can be measured by a metric that calculates the amount of body mass index (BMI). If the BMI is over 30, then an individual is considered to have an obese weight.

According to WHO, 650 million people in the world are considered to have obese weight. Obesity is one of the risk factors for developing coronary heart disease due to: 

  • Changes in Cholesterol Level: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also referred to as ‘good cholesterol’, is responsible for the transport of cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, where cholesterol is broken down and eliminated. When an individual is obese, there is a decrease in HDL levels and an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called ‘bad cholesterol’, levels. Increased levels of LDL in one’s bloodstream can cause the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries and can lead to CHD.
  • Increase in Blood Pressure: obese individuals require more blood to supply necessary nutrients and oxygen all over the body, thereby posing increased demand on the blood circulation and leading to increased blood pressure.4  There are several pathophysiological mechanisms that contribute to increased blood pressure in obese individuals, including sympathetic hyperactivity, compression of the kidneys and increased vascular resistance.

Insulin resistance

Diabetes type 2 patients are prone to heart disease because the body is not able to maintain the blood sugar level. Excess sugar attaches to the red blood cells and causes damage to the blood vessel, increasing the chances of plaque formation inside the arteries, which consequently blocks the blood flow leading to the development of CHD.5

Losing excess weight reduces the risk of coronary heart disease

A combination of a healthy diet and lifestyle changes improves the quality of life and reduces the risk of CHD. Studies suggested that weight loss in obese patients helps to reduce the risk of CHD by maintaining normal levels of cholesterol, sugar, and blood pressure in your body. Some tips on potential lifestyle changes one can implement to lose excess weight:

  • Healthy Diet: maintain a balanced diet with more vegetables, grains, and fish.  Reduce the amount of saturated fat and sugar. This helps reduce the levels of fat in your blood vessels and thereby decreases the risk of artery blockage.
  • Exercise: physical activity has a positive impact on overall health. Your healthcare professional can assist you with creating an exercise plan that will help you lose weight. Maintaining your weight within the range of BMI will reduce inflammation throughout the body, improve your oxygen level, and reduce the pressure on the heart.6 

When to contact a doctor

If you feel symptoms like angina (such as intense chest pain running down the left arm, shortness of breath, excessive fatigue, and sweating), you should contact a doctor.  Your doctor will make a proper diagnosis and suggest treatment, including medication, diet, and exercise. Some patients need catheter-based procedures or surgery, so it is better to avoid delay if experiencing severe symptoms.7


Coronary heart disease is a condition in which coronary arteries are unable to adequately supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart due to the build-up of fatty plaques. This causes inflammation and produces symptoms like chest pain, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, and swelling in the body, if these symptoms are not treated it can lead to heart failure. However, with proper medication and lifestyle changes, we can reduce the risk of CHD.


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  2. Ades PA, Savage PD. Obesity in coronary heart disease: An unaddressed behavioural risk factor. Prev Med. 2017 Nov;104:117–9.
  3. Coronary heart disease [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 15]. Available from:
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  5. Aronson D, Edelman ER. Coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus. Cardiol Clin [Internet]. 2014 Aug [cited 2022 Sep 15];32(3):439–55. Available from:
  6. Ades PA, Savage PD. Potential benefits of weight loss in coronary heart disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Feb;56(4):448–56
  7. When should you see a cardiologist? [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2021 [cited 2022 Sep 15]. Available from:

Fatima Zehra

M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan

Fatima is a Pharmacist and Freelance Medical Writer with working experience in Pharmaceutical,
Hospital and Community Sector. She is passionate to educate people about health care. She has a
great interest to communicate complex scientific information to general audience using her
experience and writing skill. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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