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Know Your Body's Composition to Determine Heart Disease Risk

October 8, 2010

You’ve heard the nursery rhyme that says girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and boys are made of frogs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails. Actually, a human body of any age or sex is made up of things like fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. These are what would be considered the body’s composition, and knowing your ratios of one element to another is what helps determine if you’re at risk for heart disease.

what bodies are made ofThe American Heart Association explains, “If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you're at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. That increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Obesity is now recognized as a major, independent risk factor for heart disease. You can reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off.”

The indirect ways to assess your body composition are via the waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). To find out where you stand, check this American Heart Association chart, and then this one from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

We offer a more precise method of Body Composition Testing at North Ohio Heart and Ohio Medical Group. Using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) technology for this test, a total body scan with DXA gives accurate measurements of bone mineral content and density, lean tissue mass, fat tissue mass and the percentage of fat, both for the total body and regionally for trunk, arms, legs and pelvis. This way they can tell if you’re at increased risk for type II diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain kinds of cancer as well as heart disease.