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Excessive Belly Fat May Cause Recurring Heart Attack and Stroke

A new research has shown that heart attack survivors with excess fat around their belly are at a greater risk of another heart attack later in life. This study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Previous studies have revealed the association of belly fat with a heart attack. If a person has abdominal fat, then he is at a greater risk of having a heart attack later in life. Obesity is a very important determinant of a heart attack.  But still, it is unknown how abdominal obesity is linked with increased risk of subsequent heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Hanieh Mohammadi from the Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden, said, after having the first heart attack patients undergo a stringent medical treatment regimen. The treatment is given to prevent the reoccurrence or second heart attack in patients, so it is known as secondary prevention.

Secondary prevention reduces the risk factors that are involved in heart attack and strokes such as blood pressure, high lipid profile and high blood sugar level. Previously it was not known whether abdominal obesity put patients at greater risk of recurrent events of heart attack who received secondary prevention treatments.

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The study is conducted at a commercial level and is considered the largest study on this topic. This definitive study includes the sample size of 22,000 patients with a first heart attack in their life. The study is conducted to check the association between abdominal fat and the risk of subsequent occurrence of cardiovascular disease events. Abdominal fat is determined by measuring waist circumference. The fatal or non-fatal events that involved heart attack and stroke due to clogged arteries were observed by researchers. Patients shortlisted from the SWEDEHEART registry were followed up for about 3.8 years.

78% of men and 90% of women among the patients had abdominal fat as their waist circumference 94cm or more for men and 80cm or more for women.

The association between the fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes with increased abdominal fat is independent. There is no involvement of other risk factors in this regard such as diabetes, smoking, blood pressure, hypertension, body mass index and body lipids. The most important indicator for the recurrent events is the waist circumference as compared to overall obesity.

Mohammadi stated the conditions (increased blood pressure, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar level and high blood lipid profile) that cause the clogging of the blood arteries via atherosclerosis are very common reasons for the first heart attack among the patients.

The results of the study suggest that many negative mechanisms are independent of these risk factors and are not known linked with abdominal obesity. Patients with increasing abdominal fat are at greater risk of subsequent events of CVDs regardless of receiving the therapies that reduce the related risk factors linked with belly fat. The therapies are diabetes medicines, anti-hypertensive and lipid-lowering drugs.

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It was the first study that observed the men and women in both the ways i.e. together and separately. In men, the relationship is linear between the recurrent events and waist circumference. In women, the relationship between waist circumference and subsequent events is U shaped. This means that the women with mid-range waist circumference were at low risk of recurrent events (mid-range value is above the cut-off value i.e. 80cm).

According to Dr. Mohammadi, the ratio of men and women in this study is not comparable as the men were three times more as compared to women. This does not give the powerful statistical data regarding the female group. More studies are still needed based on gender for obtaining accurate results.

She further added that evil visceral fats put men at high risk of abdominal obesity as compared to women. In women, belly fat is more deposit at the subcutaneous level which not much harmful.

To conclude, abdominal fat not only increases the risk of first heart attack or stroke, but it also puts a person at risk of recurrent events. It is important for preventing further heart attacks to maintain the healthy waist circumference along with drugs. It would be done by taking a healthy diet and doing regular exercise.

 

About the author

Areeba Hussain

Graduated in Medical Microbiology, Areeba is working as a full-time medical writer for the last few years. She enjoys summarizing the latest researches into readable news to convey the recent advancements in medicine and human health.

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