Heart attacks caused by obesity, not body shape

The previous understanding that people carrying excess fat around their waist, typically known as ‘apple shape’, are at a greater risk of a heart attack than those who carry fat elsewhere on the body, is being challenged. 

Earlier research had claimed that those who were obese and carrying the weight centrally had a three times greater risk of a heart attack than people with general obesity (weight spread throughout their body).  

However this is challenged by a study published in the Lancet, which was conducted by the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration (a consortium of 200 scientists from 17 countries led from the University of Cambridge, UK). The international study involved over 220,000 adults, each monitored for almost a decade, of which 14,000 developed a heart attack or stroke during the monitoring period. The research identifies that body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio each had a similar impact on the risk of subsequent heart attack and strokes.  A further finding was that BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed individually or in combination, do not improve the risk prediction of cardiovascular disease for peopled in developed countries when additional information is available for blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids.  

According to Professor Holgate of the Medical Research Council, he reiterates the point that the main worry with obesity is that it leads to other illnesses. Around 60% of type 2 diabetes and 20% of heart disease cases are attributed to excess body fat. The number of UK adults who are obese has risen by 50% in the past decade, with the worrying issue that obesity in children continues to grow at an alarming rate.

A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
A measure of whether a person’s weight is normal, too high or too low. It is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres. Full medical glossary
Disease of the heart and blood vessels, usually due to atherosclerosis. Full medical glossary
A disorder caused by insufficient or absent production of the hormone insulin by the pancreas, or because the tissues are resistant to the effects. Full medical glossary
One of the three main food constituents (with carbohydrate and protein), and the main form in which energy is stored in the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
The death of a section of heart muscle caused by an interruption in its blood supply. Also called a myocardial infarction. Full medical glossary
A general term for fats and oils that are an important energy source. Full medical glossary
Myocardial infarction. Death of a segment of heart muscle, which follows interruption of its blood supply. Full medical glossary
Excess accumulation of fat in the body. Full medical glossary
A craving to eat non-food substances such as earth or coal. Full medical glossary
Any sudden neurological problem caused by a bleed or a clot in a blood vessel. Full medical glossary
Relating to blood vessels. Full medical glossary