Losing weight is important for your health, but what’s worse? Extra inches vs. extra pounds? Keep reading to find out.

According to a new study presented at the 2022 European Society of Cardiology Congress, the relative risk of heart failure increases for each extra inch at the waistline. In other words, you shouldn’t focus solely on how much you weigh when thinking about your health, but also on the size of your belly.

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, MD, a cardiologist and researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, notes that it’s not surprising that belly fat or weight around the middle section is associated with a higher risk of heart failure. “[That] type of fat can make a big difference in a person’s risk for cardiac events and heart failure,” he says. Lopez-Jimenez was not involved in the study.

Belly Fat and Heart Health

What’s Worse? Extra Inches vs. Extra PoundsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity and waist circumference has continued to increase in the U.S. over the past few decades. But why does belly fat matter? “Deeper belly fat, which is the visceral fat that accumulates around abdominal organs such as the pancreas, liver, and the small and large intestines, is fundamentally different from the fat that’s under the skin,” says Lopez-Jimenez.

In addition, this type of fat has been associated with inflammation, which affects the arteries, heart, and more. While there isn’t a standard recommended waist size, Lopez-Jimenez recommends keeping your waist size less than half your height. Keep in mind that waist circumference refers to a measurement taken near the belly button, not your pants size.

Extra Inches and Heart Failure

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank on 428,087 people. According to their results, the group with the largest waistlines had a greater likelihood (3.21 times more likely) of suffering from cardiovascular problems than those with the smallest waist.

Furthermore, those with the highest BMI (body mass index) were only 2.65 times more likely to experience heart failure than those with the lowest. Their results show that for every extra unit of BMI, the chances of heart failure increased by 9 percent. “Indirectly, central obesity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is one of the main factors leading to heart failure,” says Lopez-Jimenez.

Improving Your Health

While this study doesn’t focus on people with a normal BMI but large belly fat, that doesn’t mean they’re healthy. “Evidence suggests that these people are at an even higher risk of death [overall] and death due to cardiac events,” says Lopez-Jimenez.

l-arginine plus“Unfortunately, many people with normal weight obesity don’t know they are at risk – they think they are healthy and don’t feel compelled to lose weight or exercise. We’re trying to increase awareness because this is something that has been missed for decades, but it’s a risky combination for heart health,” he says.

If you want to improve your health, you should focus on maintaining a healthy weight range as well as healthy belly fat and waist circumference measurements. You can also give your heart an extra boost by taking supplements like L-arginine Plus. Its ingredients promote circulation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and more. Give your health the support it deserves by maintaining a healthy waist measurement and taking L-arginine Plus.