While obesity is associated with an increased risk for heart attacks, a new study suggests that hip and waist size may play a bigger role, particularly for women.
Researchers examined data on 479,610 adults in England, Scotland and Wales. At the start, participants ranged in age from 40 to 69, with an average age of 56. They were typically overweight but they didn’t have a history of heart disease.
After an average follow-up of seven years, 5,710 people had heart attacks.
Heart attacks were more common in people who were obese, with the risk increasing along with increases in body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight.
But the increased risk was even higher for people who had an unusually large waist circumference or a high waist-to-hip ratio, meaning their hips aren’t much wider than their waist — and the effect was particularly strong in women.
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“We found that women with bigger waists and waist-to-hip ratios face a greater excess risk of experiencing a heart attack than men who have a similar ‘apple’ shape,” said lead study author Sanne Peters of the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Oxford in the U.K.
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