DEC 01, 2017 9:24 AM PST

Gender-Based Differences in Fat Distribution Skews Risk for Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

The reason why people of the same weight can have very different risk profiles for heart disease is because the distribution and type of fat in the body may be more important than how much fat is stored, a new study from the Radiological Society of North America shows.

The new study looked at the implications of fat distribution, including fundamental differences between men and women, and the risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other cardiovascular-related diseases, collectively dubbed the “cardiometabolic risk.”

"We hypothesized that there are gender-based differences in body composition and ectopic fat depots and that these could be associated with gender-specific risk profiles for diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke," explained lead author Miriam A. Bredella, MD.

Ectopic fat deposits typically surround blood vessels, muscles, and organs near the abdominal region and the liver, making them more dangerous than other types of fat deposits in terms of cardiometabolic risk.

Two hundred overweight and obese participants were enrolled in the new study, with about a 50:50 ratio of men to women, and who had no other diagnosed serious health problems. The participants were an average age of 37 and all shared similar BMIs.

Researchers used CT scans as well as a technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure body composition, and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for fat quantification and analysis.

The results showed that in general, women had more fat but lower lean mass. Men had more ectopic fat depots in the abdomen, muscles, and surrounding internal organs, mainly the liver. Not surprisingly, men also proved to have higher cardiometabolic risk overall. However, this wasn’t because of ectopic fat; ectopic fat in women was much more strongly associated with cardiometabolic risk than it was in men.

This study shows that the fat distribution patterns that are different between men and women also have different impacts for men and women, and thus affect cardiometabolic risk differently for men and women. These results explain why people who weigh the same or who share similar BMIs can have very different cardiometabolic risk profiles.

Sources: Circulation, Radiological Society of North America

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 16, 2021
Cardiology
Therapeutic Exosome Spray May One Day Aid Heart Attack Recovery
JUL 16, 2021
Therapeutic Exosome Spray May One Day Aid Heart Attack Recovery
When the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, heart cells don't get enough oxygen and begin to die; this is a heart at ...
AUG 04, 2021
Cardiology
Researchers Discover the Body's Blood Pressure Meters
AUG 04, 2021
Researchers Discover the Body's Blood Pressure Meters
For decades, researchers have sought to find the natural barometers that sense changes in blood pressure in the body so ...
SEP 01, 2021
Technology
Keep 6 Inches Away: Smartphones and Watches Can Interfere With Implanted Medical Devices
SEP 01, 2021
Keep 6 Inches Away: Smartphones and Watches Can Interfere With Implanted Medical Devices
Recent guidance by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that people with implanted medical devices sho ...
SEP 10, 2021
Health & Medicine
Intervention for Endocarditis- What Kind of Valve is Best?
SEP 10, 2021
Intervention for Endocarditis- What Kind of Valve is Best?
  Infective endocarditis is caused when a bacterium such as staphylococcus enters the bloodstream and infects heart ...
NOV 09, 2021
Cardiology
How Mutations in a Huge Gene Can Cause a Common Heart Disorder
NOV 09, 2021
How Mutations in a Huge Gene Can Cause a Common Heart Disorder
Hundreds of thousands of Americans are thought to have dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a progressive disorder in which the ...
NOV 24, 2021
Cardiology
Stressed Mitochondria From Fat Cells Are a Warning to the Heart
NOV 24, 2021
Stressed Mitochondria From Fat Cells Are a Warning to the Heart
While obesity is closely linked to cardiovascular disease, that connection is murky. Some people who are considered obes ...
Loading Comments...