Health Discoveries in General Health News

Belly fat seen as major risk factor in heart disease deaths

May 3, 2011
A large amount of belly fat, even in people who are of normal weight, can double the risk of death in people with heart disease, according to the May issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, reviewed data from five studies conducted in different countries that involved nearly 16,000 participants who had heart disease.

The researchers found that significant belly fat is more important in determining an individual's risk of death than overall body mass index (BMI) - the ratio of height to weight - and as much a risk factor as very high cholesterol or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

"BMI is just a measure of weight in proportion to height. What seems to be more important is how the fat is distributed on the body," said Dr. Thais Coutinho, a Mayo Clinic cardiology fellow.

An obesity-related study under way within the North Shore-LIJ Health System is examining the long-term effects of bariatric surgery, which lowers weight by reducing the size of the stomach with gastric banding or removing a portion of the stomach through gastric bypass surgery.
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