Waistline Better Heart Disease Indicator Than BMI

Waistline Better Heart Disease Indicator Than BMIWaistline Better Heart Disease Indicator Than BMI

When it comes to heart health, new research adds to the argument that a pear-shaped body, which is heavy in the hips, may be better than an apple-shaped body, which carries more weight around the belly.

A study of diabetes patients found that increasing waist size appears to be a stronger predictor of serious heart disease than body weight or body mass index (BMI), reports CBS News.

“We have known that abdominal obesity is more linked to coronary atherosclerosis [plaque buildup in the arteries] than other forms of obesity,” said Dr. Brent Muhlestein, a study author and co-director of research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

“But we found that left ventricle heart function got worse with progressive waist circumference,” he said.

The left ventricle is the heart’s primary pumping chamber, and abnormal ventricular function is a common cause of heart disease, including congestive heart failure, the study authors noted. Muhlestein stressed that reducing your waist size may reduce your risks.

For this investigation, scientists measured waist circumference, total body weight and BMI in 200 men and women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The researchers evaluated the heart function of study participants by using echocardiography. The authors noted that the link between waist circumference and reduced heart function was independent of total body weight and BMI.

Dr. Sarah Samaan, a cardiologist and physician partner at the Heart Hospital at Baylor in Plano, Texas, said these results support previous research indicating that fat in the abdominal area is much more risky than fat elsewhere in the body.

 Women Less Vulnerable

“Abdominal fat produces a wide range of inflammatory substances, and is more highly correlated with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes than other types of fat.”

When compared to men, women in the study in general had better heart function at each increasing level of abdominal obesity. “In general, abdominal obesity had a greater adverse effect on men than women,” Muhlestein said.

Exercise and diet remain the mainstays of treatment for all obese persons, including those with an apple shape, said Muhlestein,” adding that aerobic exercise is the best type of exercise to burn belly fat.

“While crunches may strengthen the abs, they won’t necessarily burn abdominal fat,” he said. “Also, smokers tend to hold more belly fat, even if their total body weight is normal, so quitting smoking may help.”

Previous research from the same team of scientists at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore showed that the greater your BMI, the greater your risk of heart disease.