In a new study, researchers found belly fat may raise the risk of heart disease in women even they have a normal body weight.
The research was conducted by researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Previous studies have shown that body fat distribution is a better factor to predict heart disease risk than body mass index, or BMI.
BMI shows the value of weight in relation to height, and it is a common way to diagnose obesity.
However, it is an indirect way to measure body fat.
In the current study, the team examined health data of 2,683 postmenopausal women whose BMIs showed a normal body weight.
They also checked the body composition and fat content in these women with a special type of X-ray.
All of the women were followed for about 18 years for heart attack, stroke and other types of cardiovascular disease.
They found older women who had apple-shaped bodies are at higher risk for stroke and heart attack than their pear-shaped counterparts.
Specifically, women who had fat mostly in their torso were three times more likely to develop heart attack and stroke than women who carried fat mostly in their legs.
A higher amount of belly fat was linked to higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
On the contrary, a higher amount of leg fat was linked to lower risks of heart attack and stroke.
The findings show that BMI is not enough to predict overall heart disease risk. It is important to consider body fat distribution.
The study confirms previous evidence that belly fat is linked to higher risk of heart disease.
The researchers suggest that women with normal body weight often do not worry about their obesity status, but they should pay attention to their heart health, especially if they have belly fat.
This is very important for postmenopausal women because of hormonal changes from menopause. The drop of estrogen may contribute to fat increases around the waist.
Doctors need to use a more holistic approach to help people stay healthy and prevent heart disease.
The senior author of the study is Qibin Qi, an associate professor at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The study is presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.