Lose Weight: Save Your Heart!

Health experts now recognize obesity as a major, independent risk factor for heart disease.

So it only makes sense that if you are overweight, one of the best ways to improve your odds of avoiding cardiovascular problems is to take off weight.  But experts say you don't have to shed dozens of pounds to improve your well-being, even a few pounds can make a difference.

Buddy Dyer may be Orlando's "top dog" but the mayor of America's second most visited city has also proven to be one of its "biggest losers".

Hon. Buddy Dyer told Ivanhoe, "I have always battled with weight, throughout my entire life."

Four years ago, Mayor Dyer was on a business trip, when he had an "aha" moment.

"I had bought some new pants to wear on that particular trip and by the end of the trip I could not button them" Mayor Dyer explained.

Coupled with a family history of heart disease, Mayor Dyer knew his health was in jeopardy.

Doctor Rajesh Shah, MD, an Interventional Cardiologist of Florida Hospital says putting extra weight on the human heart is like expecting a Volkswagen to tow a truck.

"The heart itself is about the size of a wrist, or your fist, and as a result, the more and more weight that we carry, you're asking more and more work for the heart to be done."

The American Heart Association says for starters, set a goal of dropping 10-percent of your body weight. For most, that's 15 to 25 pounds. By losing just that amount, blood pressure decreases by five millimeters, blood insulin drops and reducing levels by one-percent cuts your heart attack risk by 25-percent.

Mayor Dyer lost 35 pounds in four months and has kept it off for four years.

"Right now I'm about the weight that I was when I graduated from high school" Mayor Dyer said.

The mayor works out first thing five times a week. He says making his health goals public keeps him motivated.

Mayor Dyer told Ivanhoe, "Some people would say gosh, if you can do it, anybody can do it."

Mayor Dyer says in addition to working out, he eats six small meals a day, cuts carbs, and does not add salt to his food. As a result of the weight loss, his blood pressure has gone down to 105 over 60 which is well below the average blood pressure rate of 120 over 80.