The most important thing to measure if you want to prevent a heart attack

Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 4 October 2016

first.why.then.howDid you know that you have the only thing you need to measure the most important risk factor for developing a heart attack is right in your own home?

That’s right! All you need is a tape measure.

The most important and scientifically valid measurement that even you can do at home is called the waist-to-hip ratio.

In a 2005 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal they posed the question, is the waist-to-hip ratio a better marker of cardiovascular risk than body mass index?

Here was their conclusion: “Using waist-to-hip ratio rather than BMI as a measure of obesity and hence risk for CVD (cardiovascular disease) makes a considerable difference to the proportion of people considered at risk of myocardial infarction. The researchers estimate that a waist-to-hip ratio cut-off of 0.83 for women and 0.9 for men would result in a 3-fold increase in population attributable risk for myocardial infarction.”

Now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty. Here’s how to measure your waist-to-hip ratio properly:

  1. Take your waist measurement by wrapping a tape measure across your back and around your belly button. It should be halfway between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hip bone.
  2. Measure your hips at their widest point. It should be right below the bones of your pelvis and around your butt.
  3. To obtain your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

Remember this bottom line: If your waist-to-hip ratio is over 0.8 as a woman or 0.9 as a man, you have too much belly fat. This is a sign of insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance. Both of these are underlying causes of a heart attack.

Now I would love to hear from you! Do you want to take preventative medicine seriously? Let me know what your waist-to-hip measurement is and what is one thing you will start doing or keep doing to keep your waist-to-hip ratio normal? Leave a comment below and I’ll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday.

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