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Pot bellies linked to early signs of cardiovascular disease

Most of us rely on the bathroom scale to tell us when middle-aged spread is getting out of hand. It might be better to keep a tape measure at the ready. New research shows that adding several inches to the waisteven if body weight still falls within a normal rangemarkedly increases the risk of unhealthy plaque build-up in the arteries of the heart and the rest of the body.

The research, conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, appears in the August 21, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

According to the study, the relationship of the waist measurement to the hip measurement was much more closely tied to early, hidden signs of heart disease than other common measures of obesity, such as body mass index (BMI) or the waist circumference alone. In other words, we may obsess about unsightly cellulite on our hips, but its the pot belly we ought to worry about.

In our thirties and forties, we often gain three to four inches in the midsection, said James A. de Lemos, M.D., F.A.C.C., a professor of medicine and director of the Coronary Care Unit at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Its a day-to-day, meal-to-meal battle, but its worth fighting. Even a small pot belly puts us at higher risk when compared to a flat tummy.

For the study, Dr. de Lemos and his colleagues examined data from the ongoing Dallas Heart Study, which is evaluating risk factors for heart disease in a large, multiethnic, urban population with a median age of 45. The new substudy focused on a group of 2,744 participants who had noninvasive imaging tests to look for early signs of plaque build-up in the arteries, which signals an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life.

Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) was used to identify calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart. These deposits indicate the onset of atherosclerosis, or so-c
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
202-375-6476
American College of Cardiology
13-Aug-2007


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