Belly fat may signal early heart issues for Mexican Americans

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Among Mexican Americans, too much abdominal fat predicts the beginning of a buildup of plaque in the arteries called atherosclerosis—an early indication of heart disease. But new research shows this is only true for those who were born in the United States.
“From a clinical perspective, this suggests we should probably be targeting second- or higher-generation Hispanics with public health initiatives to improve their cardiometabolic risk,” said lead author Dr. Susan T. Laing, a professor of medicine at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
In the study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers used ultrasound to measure the wall thickness of the carotid arteries in 527 Mexican Americans living near the U.S.-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas. They also used a high-precision X-ray, known as a DXA scan, to measure the amount of visceral adipose tissue, or fat deep in the abdomen.
Visceral fat is associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease, but much of the research about it has been done in non-Hispanic populations.
The new study in Mexican Americans showed those with the highest amount of visceral fat had the greatest thickening …

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