A recent European study finds that excess fat around belly or the middle of the body (central obesity) is common in people who are at the high risk of cardiovascular diseases. EUROASPIRE V is a survey of diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention which forms a part of the European Society of Cardiology research program.
Findings of the survey are featured at the World Congress of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Health in Dubai, UAE. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in Europe with over 11 million new cases and 3.9 million deaths every year.
The study revealed that around two-thirds of people at high risk of stroke and heart disease had excess abdominal fat. As reported in EurekAlert, excess abdominal or waist fat is an indicator of abnormal fat distribution which is bad for the heart, even in people who are not obese or overweight.
The findings also showed that:
- Around 47% of individuals taking antihypertensive medication were achieving blood pressure target of less than 140/90 mmHg, while patients who reported having diabetes reached a target of less than 140/85 mmHg.
- Among those on lipid-lowering medication, around 43% could reach the LDL cholesterol target below 2.5 millimoles per liter.
- Many participants who were not under either form of the medication had high blood pressure as well as high LDL cholesterol levels.
- Nearly 65% of patients receiving the treatment for type 2 diabetes had reached the blood sugar target of less than 7.0% glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c)
According to Professor Kornelia Kotseva, EUROASPIRE Steering Committee’s Chair at Imperial College London, the survey indicated that majority of people at high risk of cardiovascular disease have poor lifestyle habits along with uncontrolled diabetes, lipids, and blood pressure.
The survey was conducted across 78 general practices in 16 primarily European countries in 2017 to 2018. The team enrolled individuals under the age of 80 years who were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease but did not have any history of disease related to coronary artery disease or conditions arising from atherosclerosis.
The assessments revealed that high risk of cardiovascular disease was associated with either having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. The researchers, therefore, enrolled individuals who had been receiving lipid-lowering, antihypertensive, or anti-diabetes medications. These individuals were asked about various lifestyle factors including diet, physical activities, smoking, blood pressure, and others.
The survey included a total of 2,759 participants. Of these,
- More than half, around 64% were centrally obese, indicating excess abdominal fat
- 44% were obese with body mass index (BMI) 30Kg/m2 or above, while some 37% were in the overweight category for BMI 25-29.9kg/m2
- Around one in five individuals were smokers
- 36% worked out for at least 30 minutes five times a week, accomplishing the recommended level for physical activity.
Prof. Kotseva suggests general practitioners (GPs) to proactively detect the risk factor of cardiovascular disease in order to provide comprehensive treatment and advice. They need to go beyond the common and familiar risk factors and always investigate unhealthy diet, smoking, physical activity, blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes, she added.
The new survey highlights the need for more policy and investments that focuses on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.