Belly fat increases the risk of a second heart attack for the heart attack survivors, says a new study according to the researches.
Researchers have found that abdominal obesity increases the risk for a first heart attack or a stroke.
It also increases the risk for recurrence of similar events after the first attack.
Previous studies have shown that abdominal obesity is an important risk factor for having a first heart attack.
But until now, the association between abdominal obesity and the risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke was unknown.
Researchers followed over 22000 patients after their firs heart attack and investigated the relation between abdominal obesity and the risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease events.
The researchers specifically looked at events caused by clogged arteries, such as fatal and non-fatal heart attack and stroke.
Patients were recruited from the nationwide SWEDEHEART registry and followed for a median of 3.8 years.
Around 78 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women had abdominal obesity (waist circumference 94 cm or above for men and 80 cm or above for women).
Increasing abdominal obesity was independently associated with fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, regardless of other risk factors (such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, blood lipids and body mass index [BMI]) and secondary prevention treatments.
According to the researchers, waist circumference was a more important marker of recurrent events than overall obesity.
The reason abdominal obesity is very common in patients with a first heart attack is that it is closely linked with conditions that accelerate the clogging of arteries through atherosclerosis.
These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and insulin resistance (diabetes) as well as raised blood lipid levels.
The researchers said the results, however, suggest that there may be other negative mechanisms associated with abdominal obesity that are independent of these risk factors and remain unrecognised.
In the study, patients with increasing levels of abdominal obesity still had a raised risk for recurrent events despite being on therapies that lower traditional risk factors connected with abdominal obesity.
According to the study, the relationship between belly fat and recurrent events was stronger and more linear in men.