Metabolic syndrome: waist circumference and heart attack risks

Waist circumference

Since 2002, concerning cardiovascular risks, a tendency has emerged: waist circumference. It is a significant risk factor of cardiovascular diseases and could be predictive of the presence of other factors.
It is crucial to take in account such a usueful variable, and even more so as it is easily measurable.
Nevertheless, both the prevalence of abdominal obesity (AO), just as the distribution of its associated risk factors are unknown.

Fat: localisation supersedes the weight

Several recent studies have shown that the waist circumference was a better cardiovascular risk indicator than the body index of mass (BMI).

“Waist circumference is a major risk factor and it is very easily measurable with known threshold references.
According to the research , there is abdominal obesity when waist circumference exceeds 88 cm for woman and 102 cm for man.

Abdominal obesity: an aggravating factor

But it is especially when we analyse the results of prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors by quintiles of waist circumference that we realise all the importance of this variable.

Because, except for smoking, the prevalence of each factor increases with waist circumference.


The rate of type II diabetes would be fourteen times more important among women belonging to the last quintile of waist circumference (> 103 cm) than those pertaining to the first (< 78 cm).

Men are not saved, with a risk of type 2 diabetes multiplied by seven, between those having a waist circumference lower than 91 cm and those exceeding 112 cm.

Cholesterol, arterial hypertension

  • As for lipids, the verdict is none the brighter. The prevalence of hypoHDLemia, hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia increases in a drastic way with the waist circumference, among men and women.
  • The results are similar concerning arterial hypertension.

Assessment: the number of risk factors increases with the waist circumference.
As the graph shows, it is multiplied by two for men and three for women.

Measure the waist circumference: a simple gesture to carry out during a consultation

In daily practice, during a first consultation, the measure of the waist circumference represents a simple and effective way to determine the presence of an important cardiovascular risk factor..

This measure can constitute a good start to a later analysis of other risk factors, in particular for non-obese patients but nevertheless having an abdominal obesity.
  • Researchers hope there will be a generalisation of the measure of waist circumference accompanied by a sensitising of the patient to the risks of abdominal obesity, in particular among men of more than fifty and women of more than sixty whose risk profile is unknown.

Do not forget physical activity

An occasion also to point out the interest of an everyday physical activity, even in subjects of a certain age whose BMI does not reveal that they are seriously overweight.
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