Researchers found that for every 20 per cent increase in abdominal fat, the thickness of the carotid artery lining grew by 2 per cent independent of overall weight, BMI and other traditional risk factors for heart disease.
Belly fat is the bane of almost all women. You must have noticed that most women tend to accumulate fat around their abdomen when they are in the late 40s and early 50s. But what most don’t know is that this is the worst time you can gain belly fat. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health says that women who experience an accelerated accumulation of abdominal fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease. This holds true even if their weight stays otherwise steady. Researchers based their study on a quarter century of data collected from hundreds of women. They say that measuring waist circumference during preventive health care appointments for midlife women could be a better early indicator of heart disease risk than weight or BMI. BMI is nothing but a calculation of weight vs. height. The journal Menopause published this study. Also Read – WATCH: Are women at higher risk of death by cardiac arrest than men? When you carry fat matters Also Read – Best way to reduce your cholesterol: Combine medications with healthy lifestyle
According to researchers, it is high time that the focus shifts to heart diseases in women as they approach and go through menopause. This research shows that it isn’t so important how much fat a woman is carrying, which doctors typically measure using weight and BMI. What is more important is where she is carrying that fat. Also Read – Alcohol, cannabis can raise risk of premature heart disease in youngsters For the purpose of the study, researchers analysed the data of 362 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago who participated in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) Heart study. The women, who were of an average age of 51 years, had their visceral adipose tissue or the fat surrounding the abdominal organs measured by CT scan. The thickness of the internal carotid artery lining in their neck was also measured by ultrasound at a few points during the study. This is because carotid artery thickness is an early indicator of heart disease. Belly fat affects thickness of carotid artery lining Researchers found that for every 20 per cent increase in abdominal fat, the thickness of the carotid artery lining grew by 2 per cent independent of overall weight, BMI and other traditional risk factors for heart disease. They also saw that abdominal fat started a steep acceleration, on average, within two years before the participants’ last period and continued a more gradual growth after the menopausal transition. Researchers say that the fat that hugs the abdominal organs is related to greater secretion of toxic molecules that can be harmful to cardiovascular health. Almost 70 per cent post-menopausal women have central obesity According to researchers, almost 70 per cent of post-menopausal women have central obesity, which is excessive weight in their mid-section. Their analysis showed an accelerated increase of visceral abdominal fat during the menopausal transition of 8 per cent per year, independent of chronological ageing. Measuring abdominal fat by CT scan is expensive, inconvenient and could unnecessarily expose women to radiation. So, instead, regularly measuring and tracking waist circumference would be a good proxy to monitor for accelerating increases in abdominal fat. Measuring weight and BMI alone could miss abdominal fat growth because two women of the same age may have the same BMI but different distribution of fat in their body, she added. Researchers say that historically, there has been a disproportionate emphasis on BMI and cardiovascular disease. But now, it is proven that there is a clear link between growth in abdominal fat and risk of cardiovascular disease that can be tracked with a measuring tape but could be missed by calculating BMI. If doctors can identify women at risk, they can help them modify their lifestyle and diet early to hopefully lower that risk. (With inputs from Agencies)