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Neck Fat a Measure of Heart Risk
Date:3/11/2009

It signals danger independently of stomach fat, researchers report

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- A too-tight shirt collar might be an indicator of future heart trouble, Framingham Heart Study researchers report.

Doctors have long measured fat in the gut -- visceral adipose tissue, to use the formal name -- to help assess the risk of cardiovascular disease. But fat in the neck is closely associated with the known factors for heart trouble, such as cholesterol levels and diabetes, said a report using data on 3,320 offspring of the study's original participants.

"Neck circumference was associated with cardiometabolic risk factors, even after adjustment for visceral adipose tissue," the researchers wrote in the report, which was to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The standard ways to assess obesity is to measure the waistline and determine body-mass index. But neck fatness could add to the risk assessment a physician makes by measuring the waistline, the researchers said.

"Upper-body subcutaneous adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue independently contribute to cardiometabolic risk," they reported.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the researchers had "done a really good job of looking past the conventional measurements of risk."

"This is another way by which clinicians can assess the degree of adiposity of patients as a measure of cardiovascular risk and make recommendations about reducing risk," he said.

But the basic message, Fonarow said, is that carrying too much fat is not good for the heart, no matter where in the body the fat happens to be.

"It is just another insight into how much adipose tissue there is," he said. "When you measure waist circumference, you look at vis
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