BELLY fat poses more of a danger for women than men, experts have revealed.
A new study has shown that having a few extra pounds around your tummy significantly increases your risk of getting heart disease.
Belly fat poses more of a danger for women than men, experts have revealed.[/caption]
And if women have just one extra kilogram of fat on their tummies, it can increase their risk of type 2 diabetes more than seven times.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, investigated the link between belly fat and increased risk of diabetes and heart attack in over 325,000 people.
The researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden used genetic data to estimate the amount of fat stored around the organs in the belly and around the intestines, known as visceral fat, in the participants.
They found that that deep belly fat was a major contributing risk factor for developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease – particularly in women.
One of the co-authors of the study, Dr Asa Johansson, associate professor of molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University said: “We were surprised that visceral fat was more strongly linked to risk of disease in women compared to men.
“Adding an extra kilogram of visceral fat can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes more than seven times in women, while the same amount of fat accumulation only increases the risk a little more than two times in men.”
The scientists also identified genes that affect the amount of tummy fat people have, and found more than two hundred different genes.
Among these, most of the genes were ones linked to our behaviour – which suggested that the main contributor to belly fat is, after all, that we eat too much and exercise too little.
Despite this, there were differences in how fat is distributed in the body from person to person – and someone who appears not to be overweight may still have gained a harmful amount of visceral fat.
Another leading researcher Dr Torgny Karlsson of the study added: “The findings of this study may enable us to simplify measurements of visceral fat, and thus more easily identify people at high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
It comes after a study in the UK last year of 500,000 people found that women who carried more weight around their middles had a ten to 20 per cent greater risk of heart attack than women who were just heavier over all.
A larger waist-to-hip ratio, in particular, appeared to be a bigger heart attack risk factor for women than men.
Symptoms of diabetes
Many of the common signs of diabetes could be caused by other things – they don’t necessarily mean that you have the condition.
But it’s definitely worth visiting your GP if you have a couple of the signs.
- Going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
- Being really thirsty
- Feeling more tired than usual
- Losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred vision
However, six out of ten people have no symptoms when they’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so if you know that you’re overweight, it might be worth chatting with your GP about having a test regardless.
Dr Barbara Kahn, he George Richards Minot Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said: “There are many studies showing that an unfavourable waist-to-hip ratio is highly associated with diabetes and cardiovascular risk.”
One such study, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that normal-weight people with a “spare tire” had a higher risk of dying of heart disease or any other cause compared with people without central obesity, regardless of whether they were normal weight, overweight, or obese.
Dr Kahn added: “The focus should be on limiting weight gain over all.”
Heart disease is the biggest killer of Brits – with nearly 170,000 people being killed by it every year.
The 11 early heart disease warning signs you need to know
With heart disease being the biggest killer in the UK, it’s important to know the early warnings to look out.
Professor David Newby, from the British Heart Foundation, says there are 11 symptoms you need to take seriously…
1. Chest pain
If you have chest pain and you feel extremely unwell, you should dial 999 and get an ambulance as soon as possible.
If it’s a heart attack, it’s usually described as a heaviness, tightness or pressure in the chest; people will often describe it as ‘an elephant sat on my chest’ or ‘it felt like a tight band around my chest,’ that sort of constricting feeling.
2. Feeling sick
If you experience intense chest pain even when you are just sitting around doing nothing and you are also feeling sick, that is the time to call for an ambulance.
3. Stomach pain
Because the heart, the gullet [the passage between your mouth and stomach] and the stomach are all lying right next to each other, the challenge, for both members of the public and doctors, is that a burning or indigestion-type pain and heart pain can be difficult to disentangle.
4. Feeling sweaty
Working up a sweat when you’ve been to the gym or because it’s a really hot day, is nothing to worry about.
But feeling hot and clammy along with chest pains is a sign that you should call an ambulance.
5. Leg pain
If you get a gripping, cramping sensation in your calves when you are walking, it might be worth seeing your doctor, as that can be a marker of PAD (peripheral arterial disease).
It’s most common in smokers and people who have diabetes.
6. Arm pain
It’s not one you might associate with your heart – but a pain in your arm is another warning sign.
If the pain is going down the arm, especially on the left side, or it goes into the neck, that means it’s more likely to be heart-related than indigestion.
7. Jaw or back pain
For some, the pain can be in other unusual places like the jaw or back.
There is some evidence that women’s symptoms are more likely to vary from ‘classic’ chest pain, and we know that women are less likely to seek medical attention and treatment.
8. Choking sensation
The word ‘angina’ actually means choking.
Sometimes the pain can be felt up in the throat and people tend to describe it as a choking sensation.
9. Swollen ankles
It can be a marker of heart failure, but it is also very common and has lots of other causes.
It could just as easily be from tablets you are taking – for example, blood pressure medication can lead to swollen ankles.”
10. Extreme fatigue
Many of my patients tell me they’re tired, whether they’ve got heart failure or not, whether they’ve got angina or not. It’s a difficult one, because it’s so non-specific.
If you’re tired and you’ve been working long hours or staying up late, it’s probably not your heart.
But if you start experiencing extreme tiredness and your lifestyle hasn’t changed, it’s a good idea to chat to your GP.
11. Irregular heartbeat
In most cases, a jumped heartbeat is usually benign – but if it’s going very fast and jumping around erratically then it’s probably time to see your GP.
And official figures show there are more than 800,000 women in the UK living with coronary heart disease, which is the main cause of heart attacks.
Around 35,000 women are admitted to hospital following a heart attack each year in the UK – an average of 98 per day, or four per hour.
Diabetes on the other hand affects around 3.5million people in the UK.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 per cent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.
More on weight
It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin.
It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.
Typically, people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes from the age of 40, but there are some exceptions.
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