Most people, when looking to lose weight, think about the short-term benefits. They think about fitting into clothes or swimsuits. But the truth is, even moderate weight loss has long-term benefits. Studies show that even when half the weight is gained back, the initial loss has immediate health benefits.

The Effect of Obesity On the Heart

The effect of obesity on the heart is considerable. It starts with the physical requirements of carrying around excess weight, which is something that affects nearly every part of the body, but especially the heart. The heart needs to pump more blood throughout the body, so the muscle itself adapts. The heart chamber enlarges and the muscle becomes thicker. 

However, this is not sustainable in most individuals and eventually the heart may lose some ability to relax as well as pump blood efficiently. Both conditions can result in heart failure. Obesity is also connected to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. In people with hypertension, up to half of them show signs of their heart being affected.

The Effect of Weight Loss On the Heart

The benefits of losing five to ten percent of total body weight is immediate. Upon losing weight, the heart's workload is lessened. Less fat means less possibility of plaque forming and clogging arteries. A direct correlation exists between healthy weight and healthy blood pressure, so weight loss will begin to have an effect on blood pressure as well. Blood fats in the bloodstream are also reduced, meaning a reduction of bad cholesterol and increase of good. 

When the heart is being taxed in the job of pumping blood throughout the body, sometimes the blood stalls and forms clots. Relieving the load on the heart makes blood clots less likely to form. Fat that surrounds the heart and belly are particularly negative for good heart health. 

Even people with a weight approaching normal with the so-called "beer belly" are at higher risk for heart problems. Losing 10 to 20 pounds in these cases can also be beneficial.

The 10 Percent Rule

Many people may view losing weight as an unattainable goal, but the truth is that 10 percent of body weight is enough to start seeing benefits. In some cases, five percent is enough. Ten percent might be 15 to 30 pounds for some people, but even very moderate weight loss can immediately affect heart health. Studies on weight loss show that people often gain at least half of their weight back. So those people who lose 20 pounds will usually gain half the weight back slowly about six months after the initial loss. However, the good thing is that even this modest final result has positive effects on heart health.

The good news for those already suffering from weight-related metabolic or heart problems is that most of it is reversible upon losing the weight. Reducing calories and increasing exercise are the tried and true methods for losing weight. Even if the progress is slow, it will begin to have positive effects.