Apple- or pear-shaped? Your answer may affect your heart disease risk

ARE you an apple or a pear? New research being presented at the American College of Cardiology 2016 Scientific Session in Chicago, IL, adds to the evidence that where you carry your weight is more likely than weight or body mass index to tell you whether you will have heart disease.
Any form of obesity can put pressure on the heart, and studies have associated weight gain with left ventricular function problems. People who are apple-shaped, carrying their weight around the abdomen, appear to be at greater risk than those who are pear-shaped, whose excess fat gathers around the hips.
Apple-shaped bodies have been linked with metabolic syndrome, which involves high blood pressure, high sugar levels, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease and heart failure. People with diabetes tend to have an elevated risk of heart disease.
One in three people will have cardiovascular disease at some point, and about a third of them will die from a heart attack or similar event without ever receiving a diagnosis of heart disease.
Researchers from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, UT, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, examined data for 200 men and women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who did not have symptoms of coronary disease.
The participants underwent computed tomography (CT) screenings and echocardiography to assess the function of their left ventricle, the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to the brain and the body. Dysfunction of the left ventricle results in blood backing up into the lungs and lower extremities. This exacerbates the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and heart failure.
Regardless of total body weight and body mass index (BMI), abdominal obesity appears to be a strong predictor of regional left ventricular dysfunction, a common cause of heart disease, including congestive heart failure. “This study confirms that having an apple-shaped body, or a high waist circumference, can lead to heart disease, and that reducing your waist size can reduce your risks.”
In a prior study called faCTor-64, the same team studied patients with diabetes who were considered at high risk for heart attacks, strokes or death but who had no apparent symptoms of heart disease. The researchers screened participants for coronary artery disease using CT coronary angiography. Based on the results, they gave patients advice about whether to change their care or their lifestyles or to continue routine standard diabetes care.
A follow-up to track any adverse heart events suggested that a higher BMI correlates with an increased risk of heart disease. Principal investigator, Dr. Boaz D. Rosen, of Johns Hopkins, says that more research will be needed to confirm the findings of the present study.

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