Body Shape Tells Your Heart Attack Risk

More than your overall body weight or your body mass index (BMI), your waist circumference is a better predictor of your risk for developing heart disease.

Specifically, those who have an apple shape with more fat around their abdomen are at a higher risk of cardiovascular illnesses than are those with a pear-shaped body with more weight around their hips.

That's the word from researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and the John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, who found that abdominal obesity--or having an apple-shaped body--is a strong predictor of serious heart disease in patients who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes but haven't displayed any symptoms of heart disease.

Apple-shaped bodies are already associated with metabolic syndrome (which includes high blood pressure, high sugar levels and high cholesterol), as well as coronary artery disease and heart failure, but this new study found that waist circumference is also a strong predictor of left ventricular dysfunction in patients. Metabolic syndrome is often accompanied by excess body fat around the abdomen.

The collaborative team of researchers studied 200 diabetic men and women who had not yet exhibited any coronary disease. The researchers found that even independently of total body weight and body mass index or BMI, abdominal obesity was strongly associated with regional left ventricular dysfunction, which is a common cause of heart disease, including congestive heart failure.

Diabetic patients were chosen for this study because they have a higher risk for developing heart disease than healthy adults.

What can you do? "Reducing your waist size can reduce your risks," said co-study leader Dr. Brent Muhlestein.

The study findings were reported at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in Chicago.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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