Dr. Campbell: Your waistline may predict future heart disease

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For decades, we have used body weight or body mass index (BMI) as a metric for heart health. Obesity in the U.S. is an epidemic today – last year we spent nearly $150 billion on obesity and obesity-related illness.

New studies now provide even more evidence that where you carry your weight is more likely than weight or body mass index to tell you whether you will have heart disease.

A new study presented this week at the American College of Cardiology meetings in Chicago indicates that weight or BMI may not be the best metric for predicting heart health. Researchers evaluated nearly 200 patients with obesity and diabetes. They evaluated where the patients carried their weight and how it related it to heart disease and heart muscle dysfunction.

As a bit of background – There are two types of body shapes when it comes to fat accumulation–in the first case, fat gathers around the midsection (apple shape), in the other, fat accumulates around the hips, thighs, and rear (pear shape).

Patients are considered to have a pear shaped body when your hips are wider than your shoulders. Fat tends to accumulate on your thighs and the buttocks. In an apple shaped body, people tend to have thinner arms, legs, and hips, and accumulate weight gain at their waistlines.

In the study patients with a pear shape had lower rates of heart disease than those with apple shapes – this demonstrated that how we carry excess weight may be more important than the excess weight itself.

Ultimately, this study provides us with another clue to identifying patients at risk for heart disease. We know that obesity puts us at risk for high blood pressure and diabetes as well as high cholesterol. All of these things are risk factors for developing heart disease.

In the past, doctors have used a ratio called BMI and weight to determine heart risk from obesity – now, this new study suggests that where we carry our excess pounds may be a better predictor.

Regardless of the places we carry our extra pounds, we must all do a better job with diet and exercise in order to reduce our own heart risk.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see Dr. Campbell cover, let us know by sending an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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