Apple or pear? These are two fruits often used to describe an individual s body shape. An apple-shaped person tends to carry excess fat around the midsection and a pear-shaped person carries more fat in the hips, buttocks and thighs. Being pear-shaped is associated with a lower risk of adverse cardiovascular events compared to those who are apple-shaped. A new study published in the journal Heart adds more support to this association.
A multi-center group of researchers led by the University of Minnesota s Dr. Selcuk Adabag, an associate professor of medicine, followed almost 15,000 men and women for almost 13 years. Average age was 54 and individuals were African American or white. Subjects were evaluated five times over the course of the 13-year study period and 253 sudden cardiac deaths were recorded. As would be expected, those who died of sudden cardiac death had higher rates of obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol; researchers also found that having a high waist-to-hip ratio was associated with a two-fold higher risk of sudden cardiac death as compared to those with a normal waist-to-hip ratio.
Dr. Adabag says, We re not sure what s mediating it. But abdominal obesity is much more inflammatory, much worse than general obesity. He adds, For those with midriff bulge, there s no easy answer. You have to make significant effort to reduce your cardiac risk by weight loss, diet and exercise.
ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, This is not a new concept. It s a known fact that having an apple shape puts people at an increased risk for adverse cardiovascular events compared to pear shapes. It s important that physicians pay attention to the waist-to-hip ratio as an indicator of abdominal fat and not only to body mass index (the number most commonly used to measure body fat) when discussing weight with patients.