Cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome
The hypertrophy (increase in size) of the adipocytes (fat cells) and the addition of visceral fat can be a dreaded combination that accelerates metabolic and immune responses, which promote type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. All three of these affictions are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The severity and prevalence of having any combination of the three diseases led to the coining of the term “metabolic syndrome”.
There is also a very strong link between central obesity and metabolic syndrome. The collection of intra-abdominal visceral fat (“beer berry” in men) that surrounds the organs poses a much higher risk of heart disease than subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is darker in color, much denser, and more difficult to lose because it is deeply embedded in the body’s tissue. The visceral fat is metabolized by the liver and converted into harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which accumulates as plaque on artery walls. As such, individuals with high levels of visceral fat are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
Visceral fat is so much more dangerous than subcutaneous that many cardiologists are starting to ignore BMI and focus on the waist/hip (“gut to butt”) ratio. The primary treatment prescribed is diet and exercise. Daily exercise can reduce the amount of this toxic visceral fat and drastically reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.