Anorexia is a serious and potentially deadly eating disorder. Learn about the warning signs, how it impacts heart health, and what you can do to get help for yourself or someone in need.\nWhat Is Anorexia?\nAnorexia has the highest mortality rate among psychiatric diagnoses.\nPeople with anorexia may have an extreme fear of weight gain and a distorted body image, which makes them diet, exercise, or use other weight loss methods even if they are already underweight. People with anorexia typically severely limit what they eat. Some also engage in other eating disorder behaviors like purging by vomiting, abusing laxatives, or extreme exercise.\nAnorexia can affect anyone, but it is most common in girls and women. Some warning signs of anorexia can include:\n\nRefusing to eat, or severely limiting the amount and types of food you eat\nAlways thinking and talking about food, weight, and dieting\nExercising excessively\nHaving anxiety about weight gain\nDenying that you have a problem with food, weight, and dieting\n\nAnorexia and Heart Health\nPeople with anorexia starve themselves, so they don’t get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients everyone needs to stay healthy. This leads to problems in many organs and systems in your body, including your heart.\nAnorexia can lead to:\nLow blood pressure\nYour blood pressure measures the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. While high blood pressure can be dangerous, low blood pressure can be too, because your organs and tissues might not get the oxygen and other nutrients they need.\nSlow heart rate (bradycardia)\nYour heart rate is a measure of how many times your heart beats per minute. A slow heart rate, also called bradycardia, can keep your body from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs.\nHeart failure\nHeart failure happens when your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Without treatment, heart failure will get worse over time, eventually leading to death.\nGetting Help for Anorexia\nAnorexia can be deadly if left untreated, but there are treatments that can help, including:\n\nPsychological counseling, which can help you learn how to have a healthy relationship with food and your body\nMedicines to treat depression and anxiety, which can be linked to anorexia\nNutritional counseling, which can help you learn about healthy approaches to food, eating, and reaching a healthy weight\n\nIf you’re concerned about your eating habits or think a friend or family member may have anorexia, talk to your doctor about how to get help. Learn more at the UPMC Behavioral Health Services webpage.