Belly fat linked to heart ailments

Saturday, April 11, 2009, 7:18 by Business Editor

An increased waist size could mean an increased risk of heart failure, says a study.
The study, conducted by Dr. Emily Levitan and her colleagues at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), focused on the need to maintain a healthy weight to avoid heart ailments.

According to the study, even when the Body Mass Index (BMI) is in the normal range, increased waist size could lead to heart failure among middle-aged and older men and women.

The study has made use of data from research conducted in Sweden. The first study studied around 37,000 women aged 48 to 83, while the other has more than 43,000 men aged between 45 and 79.

All the participants had to fill in the details regarding their waist circumference and other vital statistics.

While, around 34 per cent of the women were overweight, 11 per cent were obese whereas among men, 46 per cent were overweight and 10 per cent were obese.
The subjects were then observed over seven years from 1998 to 2004 for any occurance of first time heart failure.

According to the initial analysis, either the BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, or the waist-to-height ratio was related to higher rates of heart failure.

Meanwhile, in the second stage, they discovered that for women with a BMI falling within the normal range of 25, an increase in waist circumference of even 10 cm could result in a 15 percent risk of heart failure.

Among men with a BMI of 25, the same increase would mean a 16 percent higher risk of heart failure. For men, the BMI increase by one point was linked to a 4 percent increase in chances of heart failure regardless of waist size.

But among women, it resulted in risks for heart failure only among those with larger waists. The study also found that BMI-heart failure risk connection became less sensitive with age.

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