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Health & Support
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Heart Attack and BMI

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Hello everyone; random question but one ive been pondering lately.

Now we all know that heart attacks are common in the overweight caregory. However they can happen (rarely) to normal weight people with no apparent reason - ex Brittany Murphy.

Now if someone is underweight, say bmi 16, if they are "healthy" (not really but u know!) do  they have an increased chance of having one directly due to their weight?


thank you 


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I'd say it probably depends a lot on why their BMI is so low.. but its definitely not good for you. One of the main causes of death for those with Anorexia is heart attacks, because the body, trying to survive, starts devouring the heart muscle for food - and it does this to the heart more than any other organ.

Being overweight and underweight are both unhealthy. If the BMI is low because the person is skin and bones, that's bad. If they're some sort of crazy athlete and just is full of muscle that might be different.

Yes being underweight can contribute to heart problems. I know a girl though who was never underweight but her ed was very self destructive and she had to get a pace maker. When I was 19 I was in the cardiac unit for a week due to my anorexia. It is a very serious thing having an ed and can create a lot of complications that don't go away. I am assuming your bmi is 16. Regardless of #'s if you are being destructive to yourself it can lead to damage with your heat,kidney,liver etc. Please reach out for support and focus on getting healthy.

It really does depend on why the BMI is so low.  I have a few friends (they're siblings) who are just naturally very skinny and have very little body fat.  The ARE completely healthy otherwise - blood work is good, physicals always come back good, thyroid is good - they just are naturally skinny.  In this case, heart problems are not a big worry (assuming you're not eating tons of fat and cholesterol!). 


That said, if you aren't eating enough, have a chronic condition that causes this (some digestive disorders can contribute) or otherwise are NOT healthy, than yes, this can be a problem.  All depends on what is causing it. 

Bottomline - a BMI goal should be at least 18-19.  If you are lower, check in with your doc first.  If all is well there, then see a nutritionist for help on how to eat healthy to gain weight.  And make sure you are doing some weight training - it will help build muscle, which will add on some weight. 


Hope this helps.

I am sure Brittany Murphy's prescription pill abuse did not help her situation and she also was supposedly recovering from anorexia and had pneumonia. Hardly the picture of good health.

Heart attacks are not normal in healthy young people.

Read this: The Body Neglected.

"But the most life-threatening damage is usually the havoc wreaked on the heart. As the body loses muscle mass, it loses heart muscle at a preferential rate -- so the heart gets smaller and weaker. "It gets worse at increasing your circulation in response to exercise, and your pulse and your blood pressure get lower," says Mickley. "The cardiac tolls are acute and significant, and set in quickly." Heart damage, which ultimately killed singer Karen Carpenter, is the most common reason for hospitalization in most people with anorexia."

My best friend died a few years ago from a heart attack and was at a BMI of 16. I take this sort of thing VERY seriously.

It is quite RARE for someone to be naturally at a BMI of 16 in their adulthood, usually the weight is so low due to malnutrition (either intentional or not) or some other health issue like a digestive disorder or something of that nature. Not to say it isn't possible, but take into consideration how LOw one's body weight has to be for their height to be at that level, past the DVSM's regulation of where the Anorexic BMI is at (17.2), so this is a very, very rare occurence.

For the rest of the population, a weight so low is never healthy. Your organs eventually shut down, and your heart has added strain because you are essentially running on empty and, like a car without gas, will break down. UNLIKE a car without gas, many times when the body runs down, it won't come back.

People suffering from any eating disorder are at a high risk of cardiac arrest, 'healthy' or not. While yes heart attacks can afflict those who are obese due to clogged arteriesas well as pressure on the heart as well as a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

Also, as NYCgirl said- Brittany murphy was struggling from an eating disorder as well as prescription drug abuse- while she could put on make up and smile for the cameras to look healthy, she was far from it.

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