People usually associate heart disease with overall obesity, but little is known by the general public about the direct link between waistline and heart.
It is a common misunderstanding that lean people with a cute "little tummy" are not at risk for a high blood pressure because they are not obese. This is wrong, because their waistline measurement would still be outside the normal range. The bigger the "belly", the bigger the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
According to recent studies each centimeter (.5 inch) increase in waist circumference above the normal range limit, raised the likelihood of high blood pressure by 10 percent and the likelihood of pre-high blood pressure by five percent.
Before you proceed to waistline measurement in order to assess your health risk, you need to know how to do it and what a normal range would be.
Keep in mind that the words big waistline, central obesity, abdominal obesity, midsection obesity or big omentum mean the same thing. It means that there is fat around the midsection that should not be there. It means BELLY FAT.
Waistline measurement is simple, inexpensive and a reliable way to assess your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes at home.
How to measure waistline?
Position the tape measure around your waist at the level of you navel. You can also use the hip bone as a guide-the tape should go above the hip bone.
What is the normal waistline reading?
Below are the healthy normal waistline numbers by gender (according to the International Diabetes Federation guidelines):
Normal: Less than 32 inches (80cm)
Normal: Less than 38 inches (94cm)
If you don't have a tape measure you can divide your height in inches by two. Your waistline needs to be that number or smaller in inches.
While both waistline measurement and body mass index (BMI) assess your overall obesity, ONLY the waistline measurement can assess the fat around the abdominal organs which is directly related to stress. The stress hormone cortisol comes into play here. Chronic stress leads to fat deposition in the abdominal area which results in a big waistline.
Researchers now know that if most of the fat is in the belly area, the heart risk is greater than if the fat resides in the hips, thighs or rear (sometimes referred to as the apple versus pear shape body type).
To sum up, there is a direct link between stress, waistline and heart disease. Waistline measurement is simple, inexpensive and reliable way to assess the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes at home.
Remember waist circumference > 40 inches (102cm) for men and >35 inches (88cm) for women is a RED LIGHT.
By Neli Stoyanova MD
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