Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Heart troubles and eatting disorders

This is the last question we received from Dr Helen.

How does bulimia and anorexia affect my heart?

Ms S has recovered from eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia.

It is true that during phases of the disorders like vomiting and binge eating in bulimia, there can be electrolyte disequilibium causing irregular heart beats, sometimes resulting in cardiac seizures. Yet once you recover and are back to a normal diet again the electrolyte imbalances correct themselves.

As for anorexia nervosa, it is slightly different. Severe anorexia, can cause severe hormonal imbalance. Menstrual irregularity is of no cardiac consequence, but hypopituitarinism can cause hypothyroidism and hypoadrenalism. This in turn can make the patient weak and prone to shock as well as heart failure. This is however rare in patients who have recovered meaning a patient may take a few months to normalise.

In short, although therectically possible, it is unlikely that someone who has recovered from anorexia or bulimia would have permanently damage her heart. Go on Ms S, eat moderately and enjoy life.

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