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Among men, 7.3% had a heart attack or stroke compared to 7.9% of women. Most patients had abdominal obesity; 78% of men had it compared to 90% of women. In men, that’s defined as having a waist circumference of 37.6 inches or above and 32 inches or above for women.
Men, who comprised almost three-fourths of the study’s patients, had a stronger association between heart attack and stroke and waist size. Men had a linear association compared to women who had a more "U-shaped" relationship, according to Mohammadi. That means the mid-range waist measurement was the least risky.
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Researchers also found that regardless of smoking, diabetes, body mass index and other risk factors, belly fat had links to heart attacks and stroke. They stressed that the size of a person’s waist mattered more than weight when determining the risk of such events and advised them to measure patient’s waist size.
The findings follow a study published last year that showed women who have a 35-inch waist are more at risk for heart disease and cancer.