A person’s body shape could determine if someone is at a higher risk of developing heart disease, a study from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has found. Apparently, having an apple-shaped body is strongly associated with regional left ventricular dysfunction, causing heart disease.

Previous studies have already linked this body shape characterised by fat deposited around the stomach with heart failure, coronary artery disease and metabolic syndrome, which includes high sugar and cholesterol levels as well as high blood pressure. The new study presented at the 2016 American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in Chicago on April 2 links the “apple” body shape with left ventricular dysfunction especially in individuals with type 1 or 2 diabetes and those who do not have heart disease symptoms.

“Our research examined patients with diabetes, who are considered high risk for developing heart disease already, and found that the shape of your body determined if you were at a greater risk to develop left ventricular dysfunction,” says research co-director Brent Muhlestein from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City. “This study confirms that having an apple-shaped body — or a high waist circumference — can lead to heart disease and that reducing your waist size can reduce your risks.”

Heart disease risk may be predicted by body shape. Photo from Pixabay/geralt

Heart disease risk may be predicted by body shape. Photo from Pixabay/geralt

The researchers assessed the 200 participants’ left ventricular function through CT screenings and echocardiography tests. They explain that the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood to the brain and the body and the dysfunction can lead to blood accumulating in the lungs and lower limbs, subsequently causing heart failure and even cardiac arrest.

They found that abdominal obesity accurately predicted left ventricle dysfunction, a better predictor than each participant’s body mass index or BMI. This suggests that a pear-shaped body, where fat is deposited around the hips, is better than an apple-shaped body.

Moreover, the new findings support the faCTor-64 study, also by researchers from the same institutions. The FaCTor-64 showed that a person’s BMI dictates heart disease risk.

Nevertheless, the study’s principal investigator, Boaz Rosen, says that more studies are needed. They suggest more investigations to confirm that body shapes actually predict heart failure.