London: Do you have a layer of flab aroundthe stomach? Beware, it may double your risk of dying fromheart disease or strokes, scientists say. A US study of nearly 16,000 patients with coronary heartdisease found that having a "modest" beer belly, or muffintop, can be as dangerous as smoking a packet of cigarettes aday or having very high cholesterol.
Study author Dr Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, said that fataround the waist was more metabolically active. "It produces more chances in cholesterol, blood pressureand blood sugar," he said. "However, people who have fat mostly in other locationsin the body, specifically the legs and buttocks, don`t showthis increased risk." Doctors often assess a patient`s risk of coronary arterydisease by looking at their body mass index -- a measure thattakes into account someone`s weight and height. However, the study authors said doctors should advisepatients with heart disease with normal BMIs to shed weight ifthey have a large waist or high waist-to-hip ratio. The study is published in the Journal of the AmericanCollege of Cardiology. PTI