The link between the location of fat and your heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. But you can prevent or lower your risk by maintaining control of your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. One way to do that is through a balanced, healthy lifestyle – and avoiding adding too many inches to your waistline.
A recent study says your waist size may increase your risk for repeat heart attacks and strokes, saying that the fat around your abdomen is a major, contributing factor to heart health.
“Having more visceral fat is what puts you at a higher risk for heart disease,” says Dr. Paul Silverman, intervention cardiology physician with Advocate Medical Group in Oak Lawn, IL. “Your body type and obesity play a role in heart attack risk. However, the link between waist size and heart attack risk does have its limitations.”
Dr. Silverman also says that the type of fat matters. Visceral fat, the fat that wraps around your abdominal organs, can cause buildups of plague around the heart arteries that can lead to heart disease. This suggest that the more abdominal obesity, the more visceral fat a person can carry – despite fat distributed elsewhere.
The study also says that abdominal obesity can lead to having more heart complications. Dr. Silverman agrees and says that you’re more at risk for a heart attack after you’ve already had one – unless you immediately change your lifestyle.
“You can greatly modify the risk after having a heart attack by lowering the traditional risk factors, which also influence the amount of fat in your abdomen,” he says. “Reducing your cholesterol, monitoring your blood pressure, engaging in an exercise program can very quickly lower your risk.”
About the Author
Natalie Passarelli is a Public Affairs Coordinator and Health eNews contributor at Advocate Aurora Health. Natalie formerly worked as a media relations specialist and attended Eastern Illinois University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies. Outside of work, you can catch her at a hot yoga class or cheering on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.