Heart damage is a little known side effect of eating disorders. After years of binging, purging, and restricting cycles, the physiological effect of eating disorders takes a toll on the heart. When someone who has lived with ongoing eating disorder issues suddenly dies of a heart attack or heart failure, their cause of death is rarely labeled with their eating disorder. As a result, heart problems remain a hidden and deadly secret for eating disorder recovery.
Anorexia is an eating disorder with the typical traits of starvation, restriction, and extreme compensation for food. Malnutrition and the actual physical state of starvation is common for those struggling with anorexia. The heart slows down during phases of starvation and restriction to create a condition called “bradycardia”. Heart failure is a high risk for severe cases of anorexia.
Bulimia nervosa does not rely on restriction as much as it relies on purging. Someone with bulimia will not necessarily binge. When they do, they turn to purging to relieve themselves. Through dehydrating diuretics, or exhausting vomiting, people with bulimia can turn to extreme exercise and putting stress on the heart. “Tachycardia” is a condition where fluid loss makes the heart beat faster, causing someone to faint or have heart problems. For people whose bulimia includes purging and extreme exercise, they are in a constant state of dehydration, lacking in electrolytes which can cause arrhythmia. Arrhythmia can cause cardiac arrest.
Binge Eating Disorder
People with poor eating habits are aware of the damage they can cause their hearts. Cholesterol problems, clogged arteries, heart stress, blood pressure, and more can result from a poor diet like binge eating disorder. Constant changes in metabolism can make the way the heart functions change, causing a heart attack.
Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified can also have an effect on the heart. Any extreme changes in dieting, exercise, and food consumption will affect the strength and integrity of the heart.
Staying Heart Healthy
Treatment programs for eating disorders are placed under careful medical care. Doctors, cardiologists, and dieticians are always on hand to help restore the body and heart to a natural state.
Avalon Malibu provides primary residential treatment for eating disorder recovery. Our private chefs help create heart-healthy meals according to each client’s needs, determined by their work with dieticians and nutritionists. For a confidential assessment and more information on our programs, call 1 888-958-7511.