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Increase in Abdominal Fat During Menopause May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

Visceral fat or abdominal fat is located inside the abdominal cavity, packed between the organs (stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys, etc.). A recent study has found that an increase in abdominal fat during menopause may increase the risk of heart disease.

Participants in the study included 362 with an average age of 51 who took part in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation Heart study and had no cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. Abdominal fat was measured by CT scan at least 2 times during the study. The thickness of the internal carotid artery lining (an early indicator of heart disease) was measured several times throughout the study.

The researchers found that participants abdominal fat increased by an average of 8.2% per year during the 2 years before their final menstrual period. Abdominal fat increased by an average of 5.8% per year after their final menstrual period. Every 20% increase in abdominal fat was associated with a 2% increase in the thickness of the carotid artery.

Recommendations to lose abdominal fat include eating lots of soluble fiber, avoiding foods that contain trans fats, eating a high protein diet, cutting back on carbohydrates, and performing cardio exercise.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.It was published on March 1, 2021 in the journal Menopause.

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