There are many key factors that physicians rely on to help determine a patient’s overall health and potential risk for future problems. By understanding such insights, patients can be better prepared to maintain their health and address concerns in the future. The most commonly used indicators include blood pressure, cholesterol, habits such as smoking, family history, and BMI, or body mass index.
What is Body Mass Index?
Determining a healthy weight can be difficult and confusing for patients. While a weight of 150 pounds may be perfect for someone who is 5’6” tall, that same weight would put a 5’2” person in the overweight category. BMI simplifies the healthy weight confusion by using a formula to identify a precise weight range that can be applied universally to all patients. This is accomplished by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms is divided by their height in meters squared.
What is a Healthy / Unhealthy BMI?
Ideally, everyone should have a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Any lower than this is considered underweight, and any higher is considered overweight, situations which can each present a number of health challenges.
What Does an Unhealthy BMI Mean for the Heart?
High BMI in particular has been linked to many cardiovascular concerns and related conditions. Patients who fall into the overweight (25-29.9) or obese (30+) categories are at a much higher risk than others to suffer from heart disease. Furthermore, they are also more likely to develop other health conditions known to negatively impact the heart, including diabetes and hypertension.
Next Steps for High BMI
Fortunately, research shows that even small amounts of weight loss (5 – 10% of total body weight) can begin to reverse the risks associated with high BMI. For most, this can be accomplished on their own through dietary and exercise changes, while others may require the help of specialists such as physicians and dieticians.
In any case, understanding your BMI and any associated risks is important for maintaining health well into the future. To get a better idea of where your own BMI falls and how it may be affecting your cardiovascular and overall health, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and request an appointment with any of our skilled cardiologists.