A number of stomach fats throughout menopause may improve coronary heart danger – Shopper Well being Information
MONDAY, March 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) – As you near menopause and have a little more belly fat, new research suggests you might want to shed a few inches now.
Women who carry weight around their midsection during menopause may be more likely to develop heart disease even if their overall weight stays the same, researchers report.
For every 20% increase in abdominal fat, the thickness of the lining of the carotid artery grew by 2%, according to their study. The carotid arteries carry blood to the head and neck, and the thickness of the carotid artery is considered an early sign of heart disease.
The new findings were also retained after the researchers checked other risk factors for heart disease such as weight and BMI, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, and it’s not necessarily your weight but how it affects your risk of heart disease, said study author Samar El Khoudary, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
What exactly makes belly fat so dangerous is not yet fully understood. “However, this fat has been shown to be metabolically active and can secrete markers of inflammation that can increase the risk of heart disease,” she explained.
The researchers roughly measured the fat (visceral fat) surrounding the abdominal organs with CT scans and the thickness of the lining of the internal carotid artery with ultrasound 360 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago who participated in the Study on Women’s Health Nationwide (SWAN). The women in the study were approximately 51 years old. This is the median age for entering menopause in the United States.
In addition to the increase in the thickness of the carotid artery associated with abdominal fat, the researchers found that abdominal visceral fat increases with age and that the rate of increase increases at the time of menopause.
The important thing is that these changes may not be reflected in your weight or BMI, El Khoudary said.
“Two women can have the same BMI, but if one is storing her weight in her stomach and the other in her thighs, the woman who is storing fat in her stomach is at greater risk of heart disease, and that would be overlooked if we did we’d just focus on BMI, “she said.
You also don’t need expensive CT scans to measure belly fat, El Khoudary said. Regularly following the waist circumference with a tape measure can detect an increase in belly fat.
“Women need to be careful and monitor where changes in fat storage occur as they move into menopause,” she noted. It’s also important that women with more belly fat control other risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, El Khoudary said.
More research is needed to determine if certain dietary, exercise, or other lifestyle changes can reduce the thickness of belly fat and carotid artery and whether there is a clear cutoff point where waist circumference becomes a threat, El Khoudary said.
The study was published in the journal Menopause on March 3.
The results should serve as a wake-up call for women approaching menopause, said Mercedes Carnethon, vice chairman of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“It’s important for women to know that their body composition changes with aging and that those changes begin two years before menopause and continue with aging,” said Carnethon, who was not involved in the new study.
“Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet to prevent weight gain overall could be a strategy to prevent these age-related changes in body composition that can increase the risk of a heart attack,” she said.
Learn more about heart disease in women in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign.
SOURCES: Samar El Khoudary, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, vice chairman, preventive medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago; Menopause, March 3, 2021