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This "Increases Your Danger" of a Heart Attack, Says New Study

“The obesity epidemic contributes significantly to the global burden of cardiovascular disease.”
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

According to the CDC, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking can all increase your chances of developing heart disease, responsible for one-quarter of the total deaths in the United States every year. The number one symptom of the deadly health condition? Heart attack. Now, a new study courtesy of the American Heart Association has identified another factor that can up your chances of suffering a heart attack. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.

Your Waist Circumference Can Determine If You'll Develop Heart Disease, the New Study Found

According to the new research published today in the Association's flagship journal, Circulation, waist circumference, "an indicator of abdominal obesity," can help determine whether or not you will develop heart disease. Those with excess fat around the body's midsection and organs are at an increased risk of heart disease—even if their body mass index (BMI) measurement is considered normal. 

"This scientific statement provides the most recent research and information on the relationship between obesity and obesity treatment in coronary heart disease, heart failure and arrhythmias," Tiffany M. Powell-Wiley, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, chair of the writing committee and a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator and chief of the Social Determinants of Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Laboratory in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, said in an accompanying press release. "The timing of this information is important because the obesity epidemic contributes significantly to the global burden of cardiovascular disease and numerous chronic health conditions that also impact heart disease."

Experts recommend taking abdominal measurement in addition to BMI into consideration during healthy visits, because a high waist circumference or low waist-to-hip ratio—even in otherwise healthy weight people—could translate to an increased risk.  "Studies that have examined the relationship between abdominal fat and cardiovascular outcomes confirm that visceral fat is a clear health hazard," Powell-Wiley continued.

"The underlying mechanisms for the obesity paradox remain unclear," said Powell-Wiley. "Despite the existence of the paradox for short-term cardiovascular disease outcomes, the data show that patients with overweight or obesity suffer from cardiovascular disease events at an earlier age, live with cardiovascular disease for more of their lives and have a shorter average lifespan than patients with normal weight."

RELATED: The Easiest Way to Avoid a Heart Attack, Say Doctors

Prioritize Your Weight Management

Researchers emphasize the importance of prioritizing weight management. "It's important to understand how nutrition can be personalized based on genetics or other markers for cardiovascular disease risk." She added, "as overweight and obesity prevalence increases among adolescents worldwide, it is critical to address how best to develop upstream primary prevention interventions and better treatment strategies, particularly for young patients with severe obesity." Obesity can put you at risk for coronavirus, too—to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.