Israeli Researchers Find New Predictor of Heart Disease

This article originally appeared in the June 16 edition of Israel Today

There is a physical indicator that can predict the likelihood of future heart disease among the young and healthy, researchers at the Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva say.

The researchers discovered that the thickness of the layer of fat enveloping the heart can predict heart disease.

"For years we have known that the indicators of future heart disease are body-mass index, smoking, cholesterol, family history of artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and lack of physical exercise," said Dr. Dror Dicker, who heads the Clinic for Obesity and Hypertension at the Golda Hasharon campus of the Rabin Medical Center.

Regarding BMI as an indicator, Dicker explains that "the indicator alone is not a precise predictor of heart disease. Today our understanding is that the functioning of fat cells rather than your weight is a predictor of disease. In recent years we have learned that this tissue around the heart supports the functioning of the heart muscle and the arteries that supply it. At the same time, if this tissue grows too large, it undergoes changes that are detrimental to the health of the coronary arteries and the heart muscle."

"In our paper we have found a correlation between the thickness of the layer of fat as seen in a CT scan and coronary artery disease and thus this layer of fat can be seen as an predictor of disease." Dicker's paper was published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

"The correlation seems obvious but until today it had not been scientifically proven," said Professor Ran Kornowski, director of interventional cardiology at Rabin Medical Center.

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