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Growing Waistlines Increase Heart Failure Risk

New research by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center adds to growing evidence that people with large waistlines may be at higher risk of heart failure.

The researchers studied the weight, height, and waist size of about 80,000 men and women in their mid-40s to early 80s. Then they tracked how many of them had heart failure in a seven-year period. The study's lead author, Emily Levitan of Beth Israel Deaconess, says the wider your waistline gets, the more your risk increases — even if your body mass index is within normal range.

"For every ten centimeters bigger that you get, you get about a 15 percent higher rate of heart failure," says Levitan. "So it's important for people to maintain a healthy body weight, and also for doctors to counsel their patients about weight maintenance."

Levitan also says the younger a person is, the greater the chance excess weight negatively affects heart health.

The study appears online in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

This program aired on April 8, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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