Health Watch - Heart Disease: Bigger Bodies

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about heart disease. One risk factor for heart disease is obesity, which is often measured by the body mass index, or BMI, which is a ratio of height and weight. But not all big bodies are at risk.

While BMI is a good general way to measure obesity for most people, it doesn’t always apply. For instance, professional athletes like football players may have a high BMI without being fat. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that former pro football players aren’t at greater risk for heart disease. Even after they’ve retired and aren’t as active or fit, they have fewer risk factors than other men the same age. Dr. Benjamin Levine, a UT Southwestern cardiologist, says being fit and active early in life may offset the risks of a larger body. Age and cholesterol levels remain the main risk factors for predicting heart disease, in athletes and non-athletes.

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March 2010


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