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Big Waistline May Mean Big Stroke Risk

A study published in the December 2008 issue of the journal Stroke found that a large waist circumference may increase the risk of stroke or mini stroke.  The study also found that waistline size is a better indicator for stroke risk than overall body weight.

Since previous research has shown that waist circumference is a better predictor of heart disease risk than body mass index (BMI), researchers from the Saxon Hospital Arnsdorf in Germany set out to find if a similar association could be identified for stroke risk.

To do that, researchers compared 379 individuals with a history of stroke to 758 controls who had never had a stroke, but were similar to the test group in age and sex.

Initially, researchers found that being overweight increased the risk of stroke.  However, once they accounted for other variables like activity levels, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes, the relationship became insignificant

When the researchers did a similar analysis using waist circumference, and accounted for the same variables, they found that people with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had nearly 8 times the risk of stroke than those with the lowest ratio.

Waist-to-hip ratio is determined by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hips.

The researchers note that while most people are aware of the risks associated with weight gain, many do not realize the importance of belly size in calculating the risk of cardiovascular events.  In fact, according to some experts, abdominal fat is the most detrimental to your health. Based on these results, physicians may want to start incorporating waist-to-hip measurements in examining patients at high risk for heart problems.

There are several ways to manage belly size and reduce your risk of a cardiovascular event.  Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise are both good steps.  Recent research has also shown that CoQ10, vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil may all play a role in protecting your heart and cardiovascular system.
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