Things going pear-shaped is no cause for celebration – unless it is your body type, according to scientists.
Researchers have found that waist circumference is a better indicator of heart disease than weight, and that it is better to be pear-shaped, with weight around the hips, than apple-shaped, with weight around the abdomen.
Apple-shaped bodies are already associated with metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, high sugar levels and high cholesterol, as well as coronary artery disease and heart failure.
Abdominal obesity is also a strong predictor of serious heart disease in patients who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and have not displayed any symptoms of heart disease.
A team of researchers, from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, studied 200 diabetic men and women who had not yet exhibited any coronary disease.
“Our research examined patients with diabetes, who are considered high risk for developing heart disease already, and found that the shape of your body determined if you were at a greater risk to develop left ventricular dysfunction,” said Brent Muhlestein, co-director of research at the IMCHI.
“This study confirms that having an apple-shaped body – or a high waist circumference -can lead to heart disease, and that reducing your waist size can reduce your risks.”
Results of the study were presented at the 2016 American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in Chicago.
Previous studies show a strong correlation between obesity and heart failure, with research published by the Lancet medical journal stating that one fifth of adults worldwide will be obese by 2025. There are now more obese people around the world than those who are underweight, the research found.
One in three people will have cardiovascular disease in their lifetime, and about a third of them will die from a heart attack or similar malfunction before their heart disease is diagnosed.
Although any form of obesity can produce stress on the heart, the new study shows that abdominal obesity, more so than total body weight or BMI (weight to height ratio), is a strong predictor of left ventricle dysfunction – a type of heart failure.
“We specifically found that waist circumference appears to be a stronger predictor for left ventricle dysfunction than total body weight or body mass index,” said Dr Boaz Rosen, of Johns Hopkins and the study’s lead investigator.
He said further studies are needed to verify these findings. “It will be important to see if these patients are indeed at risk of developing heart failure or coronary artery disease in the future,” he added.