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Which Is A Cardiac Complication Of An Eating Disorder

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Comparison Between Former A

Diabetes and Heart Disease: Healthy Eating with Diabetes

At the follow-up evaluation, most of the former A-AN group did not meet DSM-5 criteria for any eating disorder . Four subjects met full DSM-5 criteria for AN, three met full DSM-5 criteria for atypical AN, and two met DSM-5 criteria for atypical BN. Two patients showed partial remission of AN . The former A-AN subjects were divided into two groups according to their weight status: the Low-Weight group, which included the four patients who fulfilled DSM-5 criteria for AN and had a BMI< 18.5 , and the Normal-Weight group , with a current BMI above 18.5 and patients who showed a complete remission of the ED. In the present study, the Low-Weight group Normal-Weight group and Healthy controls were compared.

Data regarding the comparison of clinical characteristics groups are shown in Table . Mean BMI was 14.8 kg/m2 in the Low-Weight group, 21.5 in the Normal-Weight group and 22.19 kg/m2 for the HC. There were no differences in height or age between groups. Nine subjects were taking medication. In the Low-Weight group three were taking antidepressants, two were also taking antipsychotics and one benzodiazepines. In the Normal-Weight group, five subjects were taking antidepressants, two were taking benzodiazepines, one was also taking an antipsychotic , and one was taking lithium. Only one subject in the control group was taking medication .One participant had been diagnosed with epilepsy and another one with hypothyroidism. None of them had hypertension or obesity.

Heart Risks In Other Forms

People suffering from anorexia can sometimes also experience binging eating disorder as a form of disordered eating. While binging and purging most severely affects the digestive system, putting you at risk for gastric rupture, inflammation from frequent vomiting and irregular bowel movements, it also creates an imbalance of electrolytes in the body that can cause an irregular heartbeat or heart failure.

Binge eating disorder also has the same risks associated with obesity. Specifically, people dealing with binge eating often have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.

Cardiovascular Alterations In Eating Disorders

Walter Milano

Department of Pharmacy, University of Salerno, Italy

DOI: 10.15761/CDM.1000162

anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorders, bulimia nervosa, cardiovascular alterations, eating disorders

Short Communication

The eating disorders represent the emerging psychiatric disorder in decades, with a prevalence of 0.1-2.1% for anorexia and 1-3% for bulimia . Unfortunately, the estimated prevalence must be considered failing for the growing spread of subclinical forms of these disorders, with a frequency that is up to 5 times higher than that of full syndromes .

These diseases have clear prevalence between women and appearing on average between 14 and 18 years without predilection of class or race, are now increasing cases prepuberal and it’s not uncommon forms in old age .

Often ED is comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders . There are also frequent physical complications, including serious heart problems and renal insufficiency . Subjects with ED presenting a risk of death 12 times greater than that of healthy subjects comparable age: they represent a very important social issue for all developed countries .

Binge eating disorders

Cardiovascular alterations in eating disorders

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Clinical And Cardiac Assessment At Twenty

Clinical data

All participants were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for Axis I DisordersSpanish version . The SCID-I was used to determine the possible diagnoses that subjects present at the current time. Weight and height were measured and Body Mass Index was calculated for all participants. Participants were also asked about medical conditions.

Cardiac evaluation

A cardiac evaluation with a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram was carried out. All patients included were also scanned with a standard 2D echocardiography following the American Society of Echocardiography guidelines . Diameters and ejection fraction were measured and LV mass was calculated according to the Penn Convention . All measurements were indexed according to body surface area and weight. Body surface area was calculated using the DuBois formula BSA =0.20247 0.725 0.425, with height measured in metres and weight in kilograms .

Seeking Treatment For Disordered Eating

Medical Complications associated with Eating Disorders

Treating disordered eating involves more than diet and nutrition. Effective prevention and treatment comes from addressing the emotional and social components along with the physical.

Early intervention can provide significant promise for recovery. Disordered eating can often become chronic and with time, the side effects can become more life-threatening.

If you notice disordered eating habits in your life or in that of a loved one, or if eating is impacting your happiness, ability to concentrate or everyday life, talk to a professional about what you are going through. Meeting with someone who specializes in disordered eating habits can make a significant impact on recovery.

âIf someone is heavily restricting their caloric intake or they are routinely purging they can cause significant medical issues that in some cases can be irreversible,â says Katherine Walker, MS, LCPC, a therapist with Northwestern Medicine. âIf the situation revolves more around disordered eating habits but the person is not yet restricting calories or purging then seeing a therapist who specializes in eating disorders may be enough to halt the behaviors and head off any major medical complications.â

It may be difficult to take that first step, but the most effective treatment for disordered eating is often a combination of therapy and the support of a nutritionist to ensure your emotional and physical needs are both met.

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Young Woman With Cardiac Complications Of Anorexia Nervosa

A 23-year-old woman has had 2 episodesof syncope during the past month.Her mother witnessed 1 episode inwhich the patient collapsed and lostconsciousness for a few minutes. Sheexperienced tonic-clonic seizure activitybut no subsequent confusion.

  • Intense fear of weight gain.
  • Undue preoccupation with bodyshape.
  • Body weight less than 85% ofpredicted.
  • Amenorrhea for 3 consecutivemonths.

Our patient met all of thesecriteria.In addition to eating disorders,the differential diagnosis in this casecould include primary cardiac arrhythmia, use of QT-prolongingdrugs, malabsorption syndrome, andhypermetabolic syndrome.Only rarely do serious symptoms,such as syncope, occur. Syncopethat results from an anorexiarelatedcardiac arrhythmia may beconfused with a seizure disorder.


Some of the deaths among patientswith anorexia may result fromcardiac complications

. Oneof the most common cardiovascularfeatures of this disease is

sinus brady-cardia.

This may in part be an adaptiveresponse to weight loss andnegative energy balance. However, abnormallyelevated cardiac vagal activityhas been demonstrated in patientswith anorexia.

This suggests thatbradycardia in this setting may not beentirely physiologic, nor should it bedismissed as a normal adaptation toathletic conditioning, despite the factthat many affected patients exercisecompulsively.Another common cardiac abnormalityis

mitral valve prolapse,

whichoften remits with weight gain.

How Anorexia Impacts Your Heart

Disordered eating affects and is affected by your physical, psychological and social health. Often times it stems from extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors related to weight and food and each of those components can cause consequences and health concerns in multiple areas of your life.

Anorexia nervosa, in particular, can be detrimental to your heart and heart damage is the most common reason for hospitalization in people with this form of disordered eating. Anorexia involves self-starvation and intense weight loss, which not only denies the body essential nutrients that inhibit function, but also forces the body to slow down to conserve energy. The heart specifically becomes smaller and weaker, making it more difficult to circulate blood at a healthy rate.

Other affects of anorexia on the heart include:

  • Abnormally slow heart rate when weak heart muscles cannot pump at a healthy rate.
  • Low blood pressure as a result of slow heart rate.
  • Deteriorating heart muscle along with other muscles in the body, creating larger chambers and weaker walls, which in turn make pumping more difficult.
  • Loss of reflex to constrict blood vessels to raise blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of heart failure as a result of the above effects.

The other side effects of anorexia, which include osteoporosis, muscle loss, fatigue and weakness, can also impact your ability to live a lifestyle that prevents heart risk.

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Athletic Heart And Bradycardia

Individuals suffering from anorexia will often attribute their low heart rate to an athletic heart. In other words, they justify their low heart rate with the belief that their exercising has made them a truly conditioned athlete and therefore they have low resting heart rates and experience only small increases with exertion. While many of these patients may be exercising excessively to lose weight, the reality is that a starved, malnourished heart is not in excellent condition. Rather, it will display an abnormally rapid heart rate with even minor exertion, like walking across the room or standing up from a lying position. Moreover, ultrasound of the heart in a patient with anorexia nervosa will reveal small, thin heart chambers versus normal chamber size in the athlete. Because few medical providers are trained in understanding eating disorder complications, the rationale of an athletic heart is often accepted in medical settings, whereas a trained eating disorder expert would recheck the pulse following minor exertion and understand this symptompresenting with low body weightto be a clear indication of anorexia nervosa.

Can Eating Disorders Cause Heart Problems

Eating Disorders: Medical Complications – Teenology 101

by Dian | Jul 19, 2022 | Get Heart Healthy

It is extremely important to listen to your heart, especially for individuals struggling with an eating disorder. An eating disorder can lead to health concerns in multiple areas of a persons life, but the heart is the one place that will truly feel the impact.

Since eating disorders and heart problems are linked, the destructive conditions they cause can leave severe damage to the body. Research shows that there is a high risk of death connected to cardiac causes in people with an eating disorder. Getting immediate treatment can reduce strain on the heart and allow it to heal.

The heart is a muscle that needs fuel to stay strong and function efficiently. When the body is starved of fuel, it shrinks and weakens. You can see this happening to people who are struggling with an eating disorder on the outside of their body, but you cannot see what it does to the organs on the inside. Eating disorders can damage every part of the body, particularly the heart and cardiovascular system. A very weakened heart could result in serious heart problems.

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Why Are Eating Disorders Dangerous

Medical ComplicationsEating disorders can do a lot of damage to your health. People with eating disorders often dont get the nutrients their bodies need to stay healthy and work properly. For example, people with eating disorders are at risk of heart or kidney failure leading to death if they are not treated.

The harder I held on to the food, or lack of it, the faster I lost myself. I could see nothing but ED. I knew nothing but ED and I just couldnt stop. As my body began to failas I began to failI believed with all of my being I was a failure. ~ Melanie

Some symptoms of anorexia nervosa are:

  • thin, weak bones
  • hair and nails that break easily
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • fine hair growing all over the body
  • low iron levels and weak muscles
  • constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in body temperature, feel cold all the time
  • lack of energy

Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa are:

  • sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and under the jaw
  • heartburn
  • pain in the stomach and intestine
  • kidney failure
  • dehydrated

People who try to get rid of calories after they eat by throwing up will have many of these symptoms.

People with binge-eating disorder have regular episodes of binge eating . People with BED are at risk of developing:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • digestive problems
  • heart problems

Some of these complications can also be caused by an unhealthy eating pattern for example, frequent dieting.

Low Heart Rate And Anorexia

A common cardiac complication associated with anorexia nervosa, low heart rate, is observed in as many as 95 percent of patients.

Unlike other mental health disorders, eating disorders have a high prevalence of parallel medical complications. This is especially true of patients suffering from anorexia nervosa , since nearly all of the bodys vital organs and systems are adversely affected by sustained starvation and malnutrition.

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Low White Blood Cell Red Blood Cell Platelet Counts

Gelatinous marrow transformation occurs as malnutrition worsens. Specifically, serous fat atrophies in the bone marrow, and normal marrow fat is replaced by a thick mucopolysaccharide substance that impedes the egress of precursor cells from the bone marrow., This leads to trilinear hypoplasia with leukopenia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia detected in that order of decreasing frequency.

Leukopenia. Interestingly, despite frank neutropenia, patients with AN are not at increased risk of infection, and thus neutropenic precautions are not needed. Similarly, the use of expensive growth factors is not indicated because the marrow reconstitutes quickly with nutritional rehabilitation.

Anemia in AN is typically normocytic, but when the red blood cell indices are abnormal, it is typically macrocytic, although vitamin B12 and folate levels are not low. Microcytic anemia is rare and requires additional evaluation.

Medical And Therapeutic Approaches

Medical Complications of AN and BN

Treatment options are subject to ongoing debate and a lack of empiric evidence. The patientâs medical stability, psychiatric stability, AN severity, age, support system, and duration of illness must be assessed. In the United States, patients have access to levels of care on the spectrum from general outpatient care to acute medical inpatient hospitalization. Therapeutic approaches vary based on age and level of care.

While the most commonly used approach for children and adolescents is family-based therapy, a much wider variety of treatments can be used in adults, such as cognitive remediation therapy, exposure therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. That no single approach has emerged as the definitive evidence-based optimal treatment further suggests that there are many other factors to consider.

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Bradycardia Is A Severe Anorexia Complication

Cardiac complications are arguably one of the most severe medical issues stemming from anorexia. Bradycardia and hypotension are among the most common physical findings in anorexia, with bradycardia seen in up to 95 percent of patients. Low heart rate results from the bodys parasympathetic nervous system trying to conserve energy, while hypotension is due to a weakened heart muscle and in some cases, dehydration that occurs commonly alongside anorexia. Alternatively, non-cardiac causes of chest pain in a patient with anorexia nervosa can include gastroesophageal reflux, pneumothorax, muscular strain or anxiety.

How Does Anorexia Nervosa Affect The Cardiovascular System

Cardiac complications are the most common cause of death the mortality rate is about 10%. Cardiac effects from anorexia nervosa include profound bradycardia, hypotension, decreased size of the cardiac silhouette, and decreased left ventricular mass associated with abnormal systolic function. Patients with anorexia report fatigue and have an attenuated blood pressure response to exercise and reduction in maximal work capacity. An increased incidence of mitral valve prolapse without significant mitral regurgitation is also observed. Low potassium-dependent QT prolongation increases the risk of ventricular arrhythmia.

The patient’s vital signs reflect hypotension with systolic pressures as low as 70 mm Hg and sinus bradycardia with heart rates as low as 30-40 beats per minute. These changes are a response to a decrease in the basal metabolic rate. The mechanism may be due to an autonomic imbalance in heart rate regulation, with increases in vagal activity and a reduction in sympathetic activity. These changes are physiologic cardiovascular responses, and treatment is unnecessary, unless negative clinical sequelae are present.

Cardiac decompensation is greatest during the initial 2 weeks of refeeding, when the myocardium cannot withstand the stress of an increased metabolic demand. However, if the daily weight gain is 0.2-0.4 kg, then complications are limited.

  • Morris J, Twaddle S. Anorexia nervosa. BMJ. 2007 Apr 28. 334:894-8. .

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    Healing The Heart After Eating Disorders

    As dire as the situation is, the good news is that the heart muscle is resilient. Research shows that if anorexia is detected and treated, the heart can heal.

    A study in adolescent girls treated for anorexia found that while 35% had bradycardia, 93% had decreased mass in the left ventricle of the heart and 60% had abnormal heart rhythms, weight restoration reversed those structural and functional changes. Another study in adults with eating disorders found that abnormalities in the QT interval can return to normal after treatment.

    Though heart complications from eating disorders are both common and incredibly serious, getting into treatment can reverse those changes. If you or someone you love is struggling, the team at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders is here to help.

    Eating Disorder Health Problems And Complications

    Medical Complications of Eating Disorders

    Eating disorder health problems and complications are more common, and more deadly, than many people think. Both anorexia and bulimia can cause serious eating disorder health problems including heart failure and rupturing of the intestinal area, either of which can result in death.

    Unfortunately, because eating disorders are constantly glamorized by society, many aren’t even aware of the internal and external eating disorder health problems that inevitably occur from these mental illnesses. Hopefully, this list of eating disorder health problems will help you, or someone you know, see why it’s important to get help for an eating disorder as soon as possible.

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    Eating Disorders Are Serious Life

    Our hearts help to distribute oxygen throughout our body and keep us alive. In order for it to function properly, we have to consider how well we nourish it. Nutrition is particularly important in providing fuel for our body, especially our brain, and our heart. When an eating disorder disrupts this process, a variety of health consequences may arise, some potentially fatal.

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