Anorexia Nervosa is a very serious condition and should not be taken lightly. It has a number of complications that can lead to starvation and death. The condition has the ability to affect every and any part of the sufferer’s body to include their heart so it is really a very serious condition. If the individual is partaking in binge and purge anorexia they can be exposed to even more serious and adverse side effects.
The mortality rates for anorexia nervosa are very high; as much as 10% some sources estimate. The majority of these deaths are due to suicide of the sufferer or due to starvation. Many of the problems that are associated with anorexia nervosa are due to the starvation factor.
One of the many health problems associated with anorexia nervosa is sinus bradycardia. This is essential a low hear rate with a resting heart rate of 50 beats per minute. This is given the general definition of irregular heartbeat.
Once this damage is done the anorexic won’t be able to tolerate caffeine or exercise. Both of these can cause heart attacks or abnormal heart rhythms that will be fatal as well. The problem with this is that many persons who suffer from this condition tend to continue to exercise as they are constantly uncomfortable about their body image. This is why the mortality rate as it relates to arrhythmia and anorexia is very high.
Other health implications include electrolyte imbalances in such things as sodium salts which also contribute to cardiac arrhythmias and also death. There is also the risk of dehydration, atrophy of the heart muscles which is also very deadly.
Anorexia also has negative effects on the gastrointestinal tract. They tend to have problems with constipation and it usually upon seeking treatment for constipation that their condition is usually found. Severe weight loss occurs due to the overuse of laxatives and starvation is a consequence as well. GI problems include a slowdown of the time it takes for the gastric system to empty. Abnormal muscle activity of the esophagus can also result. Symptoms such as the feeling of fullness early when eating, bloating and constipation suppress the appetite putting the person at even more risk for deficiency diseases of which there is a lot.
Overuse of laxatives damages the nerves of the stomach and those that cause themselves to vomit suffer from erosion of the esophageal lining. If ipecac syrup is used to cause vomiting, its abuse can lead to stomach cramps, breathing difficulties, weakness, fatigue, heart muscle damage and also irregular heartbeat.
Another problem that is confined to female anorexics is Amenorrhea which is a premature cessation of the menstrual cycle. Even if the cessation only occurs for a couple months it could lead to osteopenia which can and will develop into osteoporosis over time. This puts the individual at risk for bone abnormalities and fractures. Extended amenorrhea coupled with low calorie and protein intake put anorexics at further risk for osteoporosis.