Abdominal obesity is more harmful to heart function than fat in other parts of the body.
New research has found that increasing waist size can tell more about your heart health than your body weight or body mass index (BMI).
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When it comes to serious heart disease, a pear-shaped body which has more weight on the hips is less problematic than an apple-shaped body which contains more weight around the abdomen.
“We have known that abdominal obesity is more linked to coronary atherosclerosis (blood clotting in heart’s arteries) than other forms of obesity,” said study author Dr. Brent Muhlestein from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.
People who have a higher waist circumference are more likely to have disrupted function in the left ventricle of their heart. The left ventricle is the primary pumping chamber of heart and dysfunction in the system can lead to various disorders including heart disease and heart failure.
To find the connection between left ventricle and waist circumference, researchers measured waistline and body weight in 200 participants who were also diagnosed diabetes. Diabetes can increase heart disease risk but all the people who participated in the researched showed no symptoms of heart disease at the start of the study.
Then, researchers used echocardigogrpy - a type of ultrasound – to evaluate the heart health of the participants. Researchers found that function of left ventricle got progressively worse as waist size got bigger and concluded that increasing waist size appears to be a stronger predictor of serious heart disease than overall weight.
“Abdominal fat produces a wide range of inflammatory substances and is more highly correlated with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes than any other types of fat,” said Dr Sarah Samaan, a Texas based cardiologist who was not involved in the study. “We know heavier people are more likely to have stiffer hearts, which in turn can predispose to heart failure. This study shows us that fat in the abdominal area is especially harmful to heart function.”
Women, in general, were found more susceptible to heart disease due to abdominal obesity than men. Researchers suggest that reducing waist size can reduce the risk of heart attack too. For women, they advice a waist size of no more than 34 inches while men should try to maintain a waist size of about 40 inches or less.
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Doing exercise, eating healthy food and getting rid of unhealthy habits like quitting smoking can keep you in shape and cut the risk of heart disease.