One of the strongest signs of vulnerability to sudden cardiac death is the amount of fat around the belly. Tufts University reported in its Health & Nutrition Update that in a recent study waist-to-hip ratio was the most relevant indicator.
The Tufts Update reported, “Researchers looked at 15,156 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, ages 45-64 at baseline, among whom 301 cases of sudden cardiac death were recorded over 12.6 years. Initially, all three measures of obesity tested (BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio) were associated with greater risk; after adjusting for other conditions associated with obesity, however, such as diabetes and hypertension, only waist-to-hip was a significant predictor of risk.
“Those in the top one-fifth of the ratio had waist-to-hip measures of 0.97 or higher for women and 1.01 or higher for men (indicating a waist roughly as big as the hips). Belly fat might be especially dangerous, researchers suggested, because of its effects on inflammation, which in turn can lead to fibrosis in the heart muscle.”