Belly Fat Strong Indicator of Heart Disease

A recent study shows that people who are apple-shaped have a stronger chance of having a heart attack than those who are pear-shaped. In other words larger waistlines or belly fat may be a stronger indicator of future cardiovascular disease than your BMI. Limitations in calculating BMI or Body Mass Index is being questioned as a way to measure obesity. BMI calculates the ratio of height and weight but fails to differentiate between body fat and muscle mass or the distribution of body fat in a person.

The report, by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology , says obesity is clearly an important factor. Fat does matter, but it is dependent on how it is measured. Fat distribution appears to be a significant factor but not just total fatness. The study found that the bigger your waistline the probability of a heart attack and dying in the months and years after a heart attack goes up 1.7 times compared to those with normal waistlines.

For men, waist measurements of 40-inches or more and 35-inches for women are considered in the danger zone. Another way to measure the risk factors is to take the waist-hip ratio (waist size divided by hip measurement). A ratio greater than 0.9 for men and 0.85 for women is considered dangerous.

Body fat is not created equal and the distribution of it plays a huge factor in predicting heart disease. This does not mean one can be fat and not worry about it if they are pear-shaped. Other risk factors have to be taken into account including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels and high cholesterol.

“Central obesity,” the technical term for belly fat, lies closer to the heart and liver. Body fat, no matter where it is distributed, is a very active tissue. But belly fat and its proximity to the heart and liver may be the culprit. Belly fat appears to release a variety of toxins which have an adverse effect on blood vessels and the heart.

Proper diet and more importantly, physical exercise, will have beneficial impact on central obesity or belly fat. A combination of aerobic exercise with resistance training will have the greatest effect on overall health.

So if you are apple-shaped and carry more weight around your waist you should consider revising your diet and exercise regime. Those pear-shaped, hip-heavy friends of yours might just outlive you.

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