Does your waistline predict your risk for heart disease?

October 8, 2008 by  

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If you are female and have a waistline circumference measuring 35 inches (about 89 cm), then you are advised to have a detailed risk assessment of your cardiovascular health. This is according to Dr. Erin Michos, a cardiologist of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

This statement was based on a US-wide study which screened 8,936 women aged 35 to 63 years old for risk factors of heart disease. For the risk assessment, the women from 14 cities underwent physical check-ups and filled out a health questionnaire. The results of the screening were as follows:

  • 39% of the study participants were overweight (body mass index is between 25 and 30).
  • 35% were considered obese (body mass index is over 30).
  • 55% of these women, taking into account waistlines of 35 inches or more, have increased risk for heart disease.

Dr. Michos laments the fact that traditional risk factor assessment for heart disease do not take into account weight, body mass index and waistline size. Based on the Framingham Risk Assessment, this risk factor scoring system for heart disease only assesses the 10-year risk of heart disease and includes:

  • age
  • blood pressure
  • blood cholesterol levels
  • smoking
  • diabetes

Based on this system, 85% of the women had low risk profiles. Taken into account the study findings on weight and waistline, 59% of the low-risk participants had 1 or 2 more risk factors not previously considered. 41% of those with intermediate risk profiles had 3 or more risk factors overlooked.

“These women have a high lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease even though their 10-year risk may be predicted as low… Our results really emphasize the growing epidemic of obesity in America and showcase its potential for misreading or masking future harm to women’s heart health, “

according to Dr Michos. Therefore, even if no health problems are evident now, early screening is important.

The cardiologist goes on to say that awareness of the problem should be increased so that preventive measures can then be taken as early as possible. Losing weight early enough can drastically lower the risks.

However, the screening study also found out that many women are not aware of the health risks that even slightly overweight people are facing. Doctors in the US are so used “well-built” people that excess weight is often overseen during health assessments.

The author goes on to say that although the study was specific to women, it “also bear significance for men, for whom a waistline greater than 40 inches is considered obese.”

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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