Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021
Heart and circulatory diseases are among the biggest causes of death in the UK, accounting for around a quarter of all fatalities.
There are a number of factors that can raise your risk for these, such as having high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Although there are tell-tale signs that you have a heart problem, such as chest pains, some people may not display symptoms – increasing the chance of a serious medical emergency.
But according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) there is a simple test you could do at home to see if you are at risk for heart disease.
Measuring your waist circumference is a good indicator of your health, the charity says.
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It explains: “Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart and circulatory diseases. (and conditions including type 2 diabetes).
“Your body mass index (BMI) is a way to tell if you’re overweight or obese.
“Typically, a BMI of 25 or above means you may be overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is classified as obese.”
Why your body shape matters
But BMI is not the only measure of risk for heart disease, the BHF says.
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It comments: “Having too much weight around your middle raises risk of heart and circulatory diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
“Typically, your health is at ‘increased’ risk if you’re a man with a waist over 94cm (37in), or a woman with a waist over 80cm (31½in).”
In general, having extra weight around the middle means you have too much visceral fat.
The BHF says: “This is the fat stored around internal organs like your liver and pancreas.
“Visceral fat produces toxins that affect the way your body works.
“It makes it harder for your body to use a hormone called insulin, which controls your blood glucose (sugar) levels.
“This can lead to type 2 diabetes. Too much glucose in your bloodstream can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases.”
To measure your waist use measuring tape and follow these instruction:
- Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips
- Place a tape measure around your middle at a point halfway between them – this will be just above the belly button
- Make sure it’s pulled tight but isn’t digging into your skin
- Breathe out naturally and take your measurement
- Take your measurement again just to be sure.
You can also input these measurements into the BHF’s waist measurement tracker at Waist measurement.
Common symptoms of heart disease include chest pain and breathlessness.
If you experience symptoms and are concerned about your heart or your weight you should speak to your GP.
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