Accelerating stomach fats acquire throughout menopause linked to the danger of coronary heart illness

PITTSBURGH, March 3, 2021 – Women who experience accelerated accumulation of abdominal fat during menopause have a higher risk of heart disease even if their weight remains constant. Such is the finding of an analysis by the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh published today in the journal Menopause.

The study – based on a quarter of a century of data collected on hundreds of women – suggests that measuring waist circumference during preventive health appointments for middle-aged women could be an early indicator of the risk of heart disease, which is across the widespread body Mass Index (BMI) Goes beyond – This is a calculation of weight versus height.

“We need to change gears in how we think about the risk of heart disease in women, especially as they approach and go through menopause,” said senior author Samar El Khoudary, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “Our research is increasingly showing that it is not as important how much fat a woman carries, which doctors usually measure by weight and BMI, since that is where that fat is carried.”

El Khoudary and her colleagues examined data on 362 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago who participated in the Study on Women’s Health Nationwide (SWAN). In women with an average age of 51 years, the visceral adipose tissue – fat that surrounds the abdominal organs – was measured by means of CT and the thickness of the internal carotid artery in the neck was measured in some places by means of ultrasound. The thickness of the carotid artery is an early indicator of heart disease.

The team found that for every 20% increase in abdominal fat, the thickness of the carotid artery increased by 2%, regardless of total weight, BMI, and other traditional heart disease risk factors.

They also found that on average, belly fat began a steep acceleration within two years prior to the participants’ last period and continued to grow more gradually after the transition into menopause.

Saad Samargandy, Ph.D., MPH, who was a PhD student at Pitt Public Health at the time of the research, explained that fat hugging the abdominal organs is related to increased secretion of toxic molecules that are detrimental to cardiovascular health can.

“Nearly 70% of postmenopausal women are central overweight – or excess weight in the midsection,” said Samargandy, also the first author of the magazine article. “Our analysis showed an accelerated increase in visceral abdominal fat during the menopausal transition of 8% per year, regardless of chronological aging.”

Measuring abdominal fat with CT is expensive, inconvenient, and could unnecessarily expose women to radiation. Hence, El Khoudary suggests that regularly measuring and tracking waist circumference would be a good indicator for monitoring the accelerated increase in belly fat. Measuring weight and BMI alone could miss belly fat growth as two women of the same age may have the same BMI but different fat distribution in their bodies, she added.

“In the past, there was a disproportionate focus on BMI and cardiovascular disease,” said El Khoudary. “Through this long-standing study, we found a clear link between belly fat growth and cardiovascular disease risk that can be tracked with a tape measure but overlooked by calculating BMI. If you can identify women at risk “If you are it can help you make early lifestyle and diet changes to hopefully reduce that risk.”

Late last year, El Khoudary led a team on the release of a new scientific opinion for the American Heart Association highlighting increased awareness of the cardiovascular and metabolic changes in menopausal transition and the importance of advising women on early interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Diseases are called for factors.

El Khoudary noted that more research is needed to determine whether certain diet, exercise, or lifestyle interventions are more effective than others, and whether there is a clear cut-off point for when waist size growth affects risk for heart disease.

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