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More about weight and coronary heart disease

People with excess body fat, particularly fat carried around the middle, (technically called central adiposity/obesity), are more likely to develop heart disease. The bigger the waist, the higher the risk.

  • For women, a healthy waist measurement is less than 32 inches / 80 centimetres.
  • For men, a healthy waist measurement is less than 37 inches / 94 centimetres.

It does not matter how tall you are, how muscular or how 'big-boned', none of these affect the validity of waist measurements in predicting risk of coronary heart disease.

  • It is estimated that more than 6,000 deaths a year from coronary heart disease are due to obesity.
  • Excess weight raises blood pressure and increases hormones which affect the development of heart disease.
  • Most overweight people have high levels of LDL, the harmful type of cholesterol, and lower levels of HDL, which is a type of cholesterol that is good for you.
  • If you are overweight or obese, by losing as little 10% of your weight you can lower the risk of heart disease.

Even if you are happy with your weight, taking regular exercise will help protect your health:

  • physical activity reduces the risk of developing coronary heart disease
  • among people who have heart attacks, those who have been physically active are twice as likely to survive the heart attack compared to people who have not been active
  • physical activity as part of a rehabilitation programme reduces the risk of dying after a heart attack by 20%

Weight Concern recommends that you should try and take vigorous exercise at least five days a week for 30 minutes. Vigorous exercise means something that leaves you slightly breathless and it does not have to be all taken at once, it can be taken in two 15 minute periods.

For more information on coronary heart disease, visit the British Heart Foundation or the American Heart Association website.


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