Pot belly due to accumulation of intra-abdominal fat causes endothelial dysfunction. Long standing weight gain from visceral fat may lead to dysfunction of coronary blood vessels predisposing the person to heart diseases.
Even Modest Weight Gain Can Harm Blood Vessels, Mayo Researchers Find
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic researchers found that healthy young people who put on as little as 9 pounds of fat, specifically in the abdomen, are at risk for developing endothelial cell dysfunction. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and control the ability of the vessels to expand and contract.
“Endothelial dysfunction has long been associated with an increased risk for coronary artery disease and cardiovascular events,” says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic. “Gaining a few pounds in college, on a cruise, or over the holidays is considered harmless, but it can have cardiovascular implications, especially if the weight is gained in the abdomen.”
Among those who gained weight in their abdomens (known as visceral fat), even though their blood pressure remained healthy, researchers found that the regulation of blood flow through their arm arteries was impaired due to endothelial dysfunction. Once the volunteers lost the weight, the blood flow recovered. Blood flow regulation was unchanged in the weight-maintainers and was less affected among those who gained weight evenly throughout their bodies.
“Physicians should know that the location of fat is important. Greater attention should be given to the circumference of a patient’s waistline, not just their body mass index (BMI).” BMI is a formula that uses height and weight to estimate body fat and associated health risks.