Obesity and Co-Morbidities

What is Co-Morbidity?

Co-morbidity is the medical term for the co-existence of two or more medical conditions or diseases, often as the result of an initial disease.

Obesity, a medical condition of having excess body fat, can lead to several other diseases or medical conditions.
They include:

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is a term used to describe many different conditions related to the heart. Obesity causes your heart to work harder than normal. Over the years, this extra work stresses the body, which can cause permanent damage to your heart, kidneys, and other organs.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes is a medical condition of excessive blood sugar. Obesity has an effect on insulin, a hormone that helps control the amount of sugar in your blood. High levels of blood sugar causes damage to many organs of the body, including the heart, kidneys, and eyes.
  • Cancer: Obesity has been linked to increasing the risk for many different types of cancer including: endometrial, breast, and colon.
  • High blood pressure: Also known as hypertension, this condition can lead to stroke, heart attack and heart failure. According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease.
  • High cholesterol: High cholesterol means there is an excess of "bad" cholesterol in your blood. This can be caused by diet, genetics and obesity. If left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, hardening of the arteries, and formation of blood clots.
  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to your brain is disrupted either by a blockage or leak in an artery. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity are risk factors for having a stroke.
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems: In some obese patients, excess fat is stored in the tongue and neck area. While you are sleeping, these tissues relax and can block your airway, making it difficult to breathe. Common symptoms include snoring, restless sleep and fatigue.
  • Osteoarthritis: Excessive weight leads to joint damage and swelling in many joints including hips, knees, ankles and back. Persistent pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness are a result of this condition.
  • Heartburn: Often referred to as reflux, this occurs when acid from your stomach leaks back up your throat, which causes pain and tissue damage. If untreated, you may be at increased risk for ulcers and even some types of cancer.
  • Infertility: In obese patients, sex hormones are altered in a way that may prevent ovulation.

After bariatric surgery, and with the loss of weight, patients can be cured or see improvement in many or all of these conditions.