Stomach fats acquire linked to threat of coronary heart illness throughout menopause Pittwire
Women who experience accelerated accumulation of belly fat during menopause are at greater risk of heart disease even if their weight remains constant. This is the result of an analysis by the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh published today in Menopause magazine.
The study, which is 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 risk of heart disease that is beyond widespread Body Mass Index (BMI) 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, 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). The women, with an average age of 51, had visceral adipose tissue – fat that surrounds the abdominal organs – measured at some points during the study using CT and the thickness of the internal carotid artery in their neck was measured using 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, 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 can be harmful to cardiovascular health.
“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 transition between menopause 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-term study, we found a clear link between belly fat growth and the risk of cardiovascular disease that can be tracked with a tape measure, but overlooked by calculating BMI. If you can identify women at risk, you can help them make lifestyle and diet changes early on, hopefully to 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.
Additional authors include Karen A. Matthews, Maria M. Brooks, Emma Barinas-Mitchell, and Jared W. Magnani, all of Pitt; and Imke Janssen and Rasa Kazlauskaite from Rush University.