News / Health

Bulging Midriffs Signal Higher Health Risks

Increased risk of death for people who've had a heart attack

A new study finds that people with heart disease who have even a modest amount of belly fat have twice the risk of dying as those with fat deposits elsewhere on their body.
A new study finds that people with heart disease who have even a modest amount of belly fat have twice the risk of dying as those with fat deposits elsewhere on their body.

Multimedia

Audio
Jessica Berman

There is compelling new evidence that a little bit of belly fat can be extremely hazardous to your health if you’ve had a heart attack. The study’s findings compare the increased risk of death to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day or having very high cholesterol.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have found that people with heart disease who have even a modest amount of belly fat have twice the risk of dying as those with fat deposits elsewhere on their body.

Researchers led by Francisco Lopez-Jimenez analyzed data collected in five studies on almost 16,000 heart attack survivors around the world.

Lopez-Jimenez says researchers wanted to try to predict how well these patients would do in the future, based on where their body fat was deposited.

"We found that people with fat distribution where the belly was bigger than the hip or where the belly was just too big - those people were about anything from 25 to almost 70 percent more likely to die compared to those with normal fat distribution."

While obesity has long been linked to cardiovascular disease, Lopez-Jimenez, who heads the Cardio- metabolic program at Mayo, says that was not the best predictor of long-term survival. Obesity is usually measured by calculating a person’s body mass index, the amount of body fat relative to height and weight.  But in the study, individuals with a higher BMI, who had more body fat in general, lived longer than those with a lower BMI.

Lopez-Jimenez says that the distribution of fat was a better prognostic indicator.

Researchers don’t know why having belly fat increases the risk of death compared to fat that is more evenly distributed or in other areas of the body, such as the legs and buttocks.

Lopez-Jimenez says it appears that abdominal fat is more metabolically active, causing elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure.

"And all those are factors that cause heart disease.  So for somebody who already has heart disease, we believe that those factors will just worsen to the point that people don’t do very well."

Fortunately, experts say belly fat is the easiest type of body fat to lose.  Most people can shrink their "spare tires" with a low-calorie, high-fiber diet and a routine of moderate daily exercise.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs