Abdominal Fat Measurements = Heart Fat

There is nothing good about visceral fat.  Many just worry about the aesthetics of it, but the reality is that visceral fat wreaks havoc on long term health.

The current model of visceral adipose tissue puts this type of fat as its own organ system.  The only problem is that this organ system, instead of working with your body, is an invader trying to survive.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Fat has always been a storage tissue for extra calories.
  • Lord knows we got enough of these in today’s society.
  • The fat begins to accumulate.
  • For awhile this is ok, but past a certain point these fat cells begin to run out of an adequate blood supply.

After all, these cells need nutrients just like every other cell, but there is only so much blood flow to go around.  Once the fat cells don’t have the nutrients they need, they get pissed off.  Pissed off fat cells begin to generate pissed off hormones called adipokines that drive inflammation and damage elsewhere in the body.

This is how visceral fat leads to poor blood vessel health (heart attack, stroke, dementia) and other problems like cancer.

While we generally think of fat accumulated around the abdominal region, it also accumulates around other organs like the heart, termed epicardial fat.  The problem with epicardial fat is that it is so close to the heart that the hormones released can have a greater effect.  The way we usually look for epicardial fat is through an echocardiogram, but this isn’t exactly practical for routine use.  Enter this particular study.

Researchers looked at whether we could use the sagittal abdominal diameter as an indirect marker for epidcardial fat without the hassle of an echocardiogram.  The sagittal abdominal diameter is measured by a set of calipers, measuring the distance from the small of the back to near the belly button region while lying down.

The findings in this study suggest that measuring the sagittal abdominal diameter is a pretty darn good way to indirectly measure the amount of fat surrounding your heart.

I found this study pleasantly rewarding since our office recent implemented the use of a “laser liposuction” unit (you can read more about this service by clicking here).  I realized quickly that the patients seeing the most dramatic results were the ones with the most inflammatory belly fat.  Since laser has been known for many years to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation, this makes complete sense.

Using laser to calm down inflammatory body fat, according to this study, is also highly likely to lower the fat accumulated around your heart as well.  Not a bad bang for your buck.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.