Location of Body Fat May Predict Arterial Stiffness: Study

SATURDAY April 30, 2011 -- A new study finds that different patterns of fat distribution in black and white women may predict increased arterial stiffness, which is associated with cardiovascular disease.

Stiff arteries force the heart to work harder to pump blood and are also associated with a buildup of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis) that can block blood flow and lead to a heart attack.

In this study, Dr. Danny Eapen of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues used skin calipers to measure fat at several sites on the bodies of 102 black and 228 white middle-aged women. Fat was measured on the upper chest, the armpit, triceps, below the shoulder blade, the abdomen, above the hip bone and the thigh.

The women were also assessed for arterial stiffness.

Compared to white women, black women had more arterial stiffness and more fat in the armpit, triceps, shoulder blade and hip bone areas, the investigators found.

After adjusting for other factors that could be related to arterial stiffness, the researchers concluded that fat in the armpit area predicts increased arterial stiffness in black women, while fat in the abdominal and triceps areas was a predictor in white women.

The study was to be presented Saturday at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology meeting in Chicago.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about vascular disease.

Posted: April 2011


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