Belly Fat Increases Cardiac Risk Factors

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Weight Loss Program
Last Reviewed 05/12/2016

Belly Fat Increases Cardiac Risk Factors

A couple of years ago, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that those who specifically carry extra fat around the midsection are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those who are not “apple-shaped.” Now new research being presented at the American College of Cardiology 2016 Scientific Session sheds more light on the particular heart-health dangers involved with carrying too much belly fat.

Beware Belly Fat: Study #1

In the earlier study, the Mayo Clinic researchers looked at the BMI (body mass index) and waist-to-hip ratio of 12,785 adults, with a mean age of 44 years old. They followed up with those participants over a 14-year period, during which 2,562 of the participants passed away. Of those deaths, 1,138 were caused by a cardiac event.

What the researchers found is that those with a normal BMI, yet an “apple shape”—meaning a high waist-to-hip ratio—had a two times greater risk of death and a 2.75 greater risk of cardiovascular disease than those with a non-apple shape.

Beware Belly Fat: Study #2

Fast forward a few years and now researchers from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, have found that abdominal obesity can raise the risk of a specific cardiac problem known as left ventricular dysfunction. 

The participants in this recent study had the function of their left ventricle assessed. This is the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to the brain and the body. When the left ventricle doesn’t function properly, blood backs up in the lungs and lower extremities, which exacerbates the risk of heart attack and heart failure.

The researchers concluded that regardless of total body weight and BMI, being apple-shaped or having a high waist circumference appears to be a strong predictor of left ventricular dysfunction, a common cause of heart disease.

Why Belly Fat Is So Dangerous

The reason that belly fat increases cardiac risk factors is that this particular fat secretes a steady stream of chemicals that kindle inflammation throughout the body, damaging the lining of arterial walls, including the coronary arteries and blood vessels in the kidneys.

The good news is that if you reduce your waist size, you can reduce your cardiac risks. So, if you have weight to lose, here are my top tips for healthy weight loss. I also have a free online center filled with healthy recipes you can try. 

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any secrets to share for losing weight and decreasing your cardiac risk factors?

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