Spare Tires Cause Heart Issues

Abdominal weight doubles sudden cardiac death risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) An individual's risk of sudden cardiac death isn't just tied to whether they are overweight or obese. It's also associated with the specific part of the body carrying the added weight.

Those with a "spare tire" or added weight around the middle are at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death compared to individuals with more of a pear shape or smaller waist-to-hip ratio.

"Talk to your primary care doctor about medically-supported weight loss options."

Selcuk Adabag, MD, MS, lead author, associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota and cardiac electrophysiologist at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, said the research indicates that abdominal obesity is an independent risk factor for sudden cardiac death, even after adjusting for factors such as coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.

He urged doctors to make obesity prevention and treatment a priority to reduce the risk of coronary disease and sudden cardiac death.

During the research investigators reviewed 15,156 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), a U.S. prospective biracial cohort study that began in 1987. Patients were an average age of 54 and slightly more than half were women. About a quarter of participants were black.

After more than 12 years of follow up, there were 301 cases of sudden cardiac death. Researchers found that body mass index, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio had an association with increased risk of sudden cardiac death.

They determined that individuals with an apple shape, or who carry more weight around the middle, were at double the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Sudden cardiac death is unexpected death that usually occurs within one hour of the onset of symptoms in a person with no known cardiovascular disease. It is often related to a heart arrhythmia. About 250,000 in the U.S. die each year from sudden cardiac death. Obesity has previously been found to be a moderate risk factor for sudden cardiac death.

The findings were recently presented at Heart Rhythm 2012, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 33rd Annual Scientific Sessions in Boston, Mass.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 11, 2012
Last Updated:
July 10, 2012