Heart Problems and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders, even those that last only a short while, bring with them major risks for long-term health damage. Anorexia (in which an individual severely limits calories and in effect starves him/herself), bulimia (in which an individual routinely binges on a huge amount of food and then purges through induced vomiting or the use of laxatives or diuretics), and binge eating disorder (in which an individual binges but does not purge), are the three most common types of eating disorders. All of these eating disorders present a variety of long-term health risks, not the least of which is possible heart problems.
Heart Problems and AnorexiaAnorexics restrict their caloric intake and very often the risk of starving themselves. The long-term health effects of anorexia, then, are akin to the health risks of starvation. Just a few of these risks include dry hair, nails and skin, a loss of hair or nails, anaemia, a loss of muscle mass, a loss of menstrual periods, joint problems/pain and osteoporosis/brittle bones.
Anorexics may also become extremely sensitive to cold and feel cold all the time, with blue fingers, toes and/or lips to match. In an effort to keep themselves warm, their bodies often sprout fine white hairs known as lanugo.
When anorexia has become this severe, the heart is often damaged. Not only is there not enough body fat to keep internal organs like the heart protected, but anaemia, which weakens the blood, and the poor circulation which results in a lower body temperature means that the heart is unable to pump and circulate blood as effectively as it might otherwise. The loss of muscle mass can also apply to the heart, meaning that the muscles of the heart can physically weaken, and an overall drop in blood pressure and pulse can contribute to slower breathing rates. Unfortunately, if not remedied, these risks can lead to death.
Heart Problems and BulimiaUnlike anorexics, bulimics run the risk of health problems that are related to excessive eating and frequent purging. Many bulimics tend to be slightly overweight due to their binges and frequently suffer from sore throats and dental issues such as swollen glands, eroded tooth enamel and cavities due to vomiting. The constant cycle of binging and purging may also lead to electrolyte imbalances in bulimics which means that the required amounts of sodium and potassium are either not met or are over-supplied. This imbalance can lead to damage of the heart muscle and/or heart attacks which may result in death.
Heart Problems and Binge Eating DisorderIndividuals suffering from binge eating disorder run the risk of a wide variety of health conditions and diseases which can contribute to heart problems. Excessive eating typically means that binge eaters are overweight or clinically obese and thus susceptible to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease as well as many other serious diseases and health risks. Though these complications may not result in death as often as complications from anorexia or bulimia, they are no less serious.
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder all bring with them the possibility of heart damage, heart disease and other heart problems. Further information on health problems and eating disorders can be obtained from a GP, private mental health professional or from the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.