Knowing what eating disorders can do to the heart

Mental health disorders can have grave consequences for a patient’s physical health. One major example of this is eating disorders. Eating disorders are a heartbreaking example of how psychological issues can drive patients to fight their own bodies. Here at Riverside Community Hospital, our compassionate physicians and nurses want patients to know that recovery is possible. Reach out for help before these serious disorders cause life-threatening consequences, such as heart problems.

Low heart rate
When people with eating disorders lose a great deal of weight or maintain a very low body weight, they naturally lose muscle mass. Some of the lost muscle may be in the heart. To conserve its resources, the body will make the heart beat slowly.

Low heart rate is called bradycardia. It can lead to these complications:

  • Fainting spells, which may cause physical injuries
  • Heart failure
  • Sudden cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest isn’t the same as a heart attack. It occurs when the heart stops beating, and it has a much higher fatality rate than heart attacks. Death can occur within a few minutes if immediate medical attention isn’t available.

Low blood pressure
One of the possible complications of anorexia is low blood pressure. Low blood pressure can result in:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

In extreme cases, the body might not get enough oxygen to function properly. This can result in heart damage.

Abnormal cholesterol levels
Patients who suffer from binge eating disorder typically experience the same cardiovascular risks as people who are overweight or obese. One of those is abnormal cholesterol levels. This condition can contribute to the risk of heart disease, peripheral artery disease and heart attack.

Heart failure
Heart failure is one possible complication of anorexia and bulimia. This is a progressive and irreversible condition in which the heart is unable to pump as much blood as the body needs.

Riverside Community Hospital is a leading heart hospital that connects patients in Riverside to sophisticated medical technology and innovative interventions delivered by a team of caring specialists. You can request a referral to a heart care specialist by calling a registered nurse at (951) 788-3463. If you think you’re experiencing a life-threatening heart emergency, please call 911 without delay.

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