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Apple-shaped women more likely to suffer heart attack, Oxford study suggests

Women with an apple-shaped figure are more likely to suffer a heart attack than pear-shaped women, a study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that those who carried fat on their waists were more at risk than those who carried it on their hips.

The waist-to-hip ratio was also a better indicator of the likelihood of a heart attack than a person’s body mass index (BMI), they said.

Dr Sanne Peters, who led the study, said: “Our findings show that looking at how fat tissue is distributed in the body – especially in women – can give us more insight into the risk of heart attack than measures of general obesity.

“Our findings also suggest that differences in the way women and men store fat may affect their risk of heart disease.

“Understanding the role sex differences in body fat distribution play in future health problems could lead to sex-specific public-health interventions that could address the global obesity epidemic more effectively.”

According to the study, the waist-to-hip ratio was an 18% stronger predictor of heart attack than BMI in women, and a 6% stronger predictor of heart attack in men.

“We need further research to try to disentangle the different ways women and men store body fat and understand how, and why, this is linked to different health risks,” added Dr Peters.

The study, which involved data from nearly 500,000 men and women, has been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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