(HealthDay News) – Larger waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is associated with a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), even after accounting for obesity-related comorbidity.

To investigate the association between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and WHR with SCD, Selcuk Adabag, MD, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues reviewed data from 15,156 subjects in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities cohort. Indices of obesity were measured in 1987–1989, and participants were followed for an average of 12.6 years.

The researchers identified 301 SCDs during follow-up. After adjusting for age, gender, race, study center, education level, smoking status, and family history of coronary heart disease, the factors that correlated positively with SCD were BMI, WC, and WHR. The association between WHR and SCD persisted after further adjustment for diabetes, low-density lipoprotein level, hypertension, prevalent coronary heart disease, heart failure, and left ventricular hypertrophy.

“The significance of this study is that it shows that abdominal obesity is an independent risk factor for sudden cardiac death even after accounting for factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease,” Adabag said in a statement. “Physicians should make obesity prevention and treatment a priority to reduce the risk of coronary disease as well as sudden cardiac death.”

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