Eating disorders can be especially damaging to the cardiovascular system as the body slows down to conserve energy when deprived of nutrients. When the heart doesn’t get the fuel it needs, the muscle shrinks and weakens. Over time, the changes in heart function and structure can lead to another potentially life-threatening consequence – heart failure. This can lead to fainting, dizziness and extreme fatigue.
Effects of anorexia on the heart may include: Bradycardia – Abnormally slow heart rate when weak heart muscles cannot pump at a healthy rate. Hypotension – Low blood pressure as a result of a slow heart rate. Symptoms may include fainting and extreme fatigue. Loss of reflex to constrict blood vessels to raise blood pressure. Arrhythmias, which may lead to cardiac arrest.
Effects of bulimia on the heart may include: Electrolyte imbalances which can lead to irregular heartbeats. This can be life threatening unless fluids and minerals are replaced appropriately. This should be done under the close watch of experienced healthcare providers who will monitor vital signs and electrolyte levels.
Long-term effects of eating disorders on the heart: Over time, the changes in heart function and structure can lead to heart failure, which is potentially life-threatening. A study in adolescent girls treated for anorexia found that while 35% had bradycardia and 60%had abnormal heart rhythms, those who received treatment were able to successfully reverse many of the cardiovascular abnormalities.
Now is the time to ask for help—If you or someone you care about has been putting off getting help for an eating disorder or are experiencing increased anxiety, now is a good time to reach out. Turning Tides Eating Disorder Treatment Center provides a staff that includes a Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, mental health counselors and dietitians providing services through traditional in-person treatment along with telemedicine sessions.
To learn more about the programs being offered, please visit, www.turningtidesed.com.