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Health Risks for Seniors with Too Much Abdominal Fat

By Nick Paciello, 9:00 am on

Having too much body fat is a risk for a variety of ailments, but abdominal fat, also known as visceral fat, poses the highest risk because of its close location to many vital organs. Henderson at-home care experts have put together this list of common health risks that can result from having too much fat in the abdominal region. You can help your senior loved one prevent these risks by encouraging a healthy diet and exercise.

Heart Attack

Visceral fat creates excess levels of cytokines, proteins that are normally part of the immune system. Cytokines can cause low-level inflammation and insulin resistance, which may contribute to heart attacks. Additionally, fatty acids released by visceral fat can cause LDL cholesterol to increase while decreasing HDL, the healthy form of cholesterol. Eating a diet low in saturated fat and exercising can help your loved one reduce cholesterol levels and strengthen the heart.

Diabetes

The fat in the abdomen is sometimes thought of as an extra organ because it produces hormones that can affect health. These hormones can cause insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas can burn out from releasing insulin that isn’t properly being used due to insulin resistance. When this occurs, diabetes results. To prevent insulin resistance, encourage your loved one to eat a balanced diet low in refined carbohydrates, which can cause blood sugar levels to increase.

Cancer

The extra hormones and cytokines released by excess abdominal fat can also cause cancer. A study by the World Cancer Research Fund found those with higher levels of abdominal fat were more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic, colorectal, uterine, or postmenopausal breast cancer. To reduce your loved one’s risk of cancer, make sure he or she is getting any screening tests recommended by the doctor and encourage him or her to reach a healthy target weight.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Researchers in Japan found a link between men and women who had obstructive sleep apnea and their waist size. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the muscles in the throat to relax and close while sleeping, resulting in low oxygen levels, headaches, and interrupted sleep, and can cause nighttime acute coronary syndrome. If your loved one has sleep apnea, a CPAP machine can be worn at night to help prevent breathing problems from occurring.

If you are concerned your loved one has unhealthy eating habits or isn’t getting enough exercise, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are available 24/7 to assist with regular exercise, nutritious meal prep, and many other daily tasks that can help promote your loved one’s health. We also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care in Henderson for seniors who need more extensive assistance. For more information on our senior care services, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at (702) 527-7723 to schedule a free in-home consultation.