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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More