Seemingly Healthy Young Adults at Risk of Heart Disease
The only heartbreak we used to worry about was the kind that happened when our ex high-fived us at a coffee shop just after we broke up. But, if you think actual heart disease only affects the middle aged and elderly, think again. A recent study found that even seemingly healthy young adults who have a normal weight and body mass index (BMI) can be at risk for fat buildup in their arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which can eventually lead to a stroke or heart attack.
The study examined males and females aged 18 to 35 with no cardiovascular disease and no known risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease (such as family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a history of smoking). Researchers measured each subject’s body-mass index (BMI), waist circumference, subcutaneous fat and abdominal fat, including fat surrounding organs. Lastly, they measured the amount of fat built up in their carotid arteries by MRI.
The results showed that individuals with greater abdominal fat had a greater degree of fat built up in their arteries (atherosclerosis), even though their BMI and weight were normal. Despite their lack of traditional risk factors for atherosclerosis, the young adults with higher abdominal fat content were still at a greater risk of developing a heart attack or stroke later on… no wonder all the Botticelli women died at like 35. Enlarged waist circumference appeared to be the best predictor of atherosclerosis, rivaling the predictive capabilities of the MRI.
Some ways to prevent heart disease and stroke are to follow a healthy diet and remain physically active, as well as maintain a normal weight and make good lifestyle choices, such as reducing stress and limiting alcohol intake. And as we’ve now learned, also make sure you and your doctor are mindful of your waist size…not in a creepy way, though. Your doctor shouldn’t be thinking of your waist size on his off days or anything.
Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (2011). Young, apparently healthy - and at risk of heart disease: New study pinpoints hidden thickening of the arteries in young adults. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025091636.htm
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