Some conditions don’t sound like they couldn’t possibly be real. You know, like restless legs… cat-scratch fever… dropsy… trigger finger… and mad cow disease.
There’s even a “Grinch syndrome.” It has nothing to do with Christmas in Whoville, and instead, it’s the name they use when your heart really is too small.
Today, I’ve got another one for you. It’s not a heart that’s too small. It’s one that’s too FAT.
And the latest research shows how a fat heart isn’t just increasingly common. It could turn potentially deadly in a heartbeat.
But there’s also a way to spot your risk and, most importantly, turn it around.
Silent heart threat raises death risk
They call it pericardial fat. It’s basically a buildup of blubber right around your ticker.
And here’s the thing. You DON’T have to be overweight to have this form of fat. In fact, even lean people with a perfect waistline can have excess fat silently building up around the heart.
As you can imagine, it’s not healthy. But new research finds it’s even worse than you may think. Because pericardial fat can lead directly to one of the most dangerous cardiovascular conditions of all. It can cause heart failure.
Heart failure turns everyday life into a struggle. It leaves you feeling weak and winded pretty much all of the time. Even putting on your shoes can leave you panting as if you’ve just run a marathon.
And sadly, half of the folks diagnosed with heart failure are dead within five years. So while ALL heart conditions are serious business, heart failure can send you hurtling towards an early grave.
Ladies, excess fat around your heart can DOUBLE your risk of the condition, according to the new research. And guys, that same pericardial fat can increase your odds of heart failure by 50 percent.
Again, it didn’t matter if these folks were slim and trim or overweight. The risk was there just the same.
How to fight a FAT ticker
The only way to tell if you have this form of fat for sure is with an imaging test. But the best cure is something you should be doing anyway. So consider this a perfect opportunity to stop putting it off and get going.
The answer is in movement. Specifically, aerobic exercise. In fact, a 2019 study found aerobic exercise can cut pericardial fat levels by a third.
Now don’t worry. You don’t have to go all 80s and join a jazzercise class. But if that’s your thing, go right ahead. You can even get the leotards and leg warmers on Amazon.
However, there are plenty of other options. Aerobic exercise basically just means getting your breathing and heart rate up for a while.
In fact, one of the best kinds of aerobic exercise is a simple brisk walk. As long as you’re cooking along at a decent pace, that counts as aerobics.
If you want to get seasonal, you can try my favorite form, which is swimming laps. And any type of water-based exercises, from classes to just walking in waist-deep water, will do the trick.
Or, if you’re the adventurous type and want to try something a little different, check out shadow boxing for seniors. It’s becoming quite popular, and with the pandemic winding down, you might be able to find a class near you.
Want one more trick to help slash your heart failure risk? Down a couple mugs of THIS.