Cleveland, OH

University Hospitals weighs in on ectopic fat and cardiovascular disease risk

Paul Krasinic
Diana Polekhina/Unsplash

CLEVELAND, OH — We all know that it is considered unhealthy to carry extra fat in your body, but did you know that there are many types of fat, each carrying its own risk for your health? University Hospitals cardiologist Ian Neeland, MD explains this to help you gain a better understanding of your body fat.

To start off, it is important to know that the most dangerous fat is not the one that you can see, but rather the fat that hides in your body. Most body fat lies just below the skin, but hidden fat is stored deep in the abdomen, more commonly known as visceral fat. There is also ectopic fat, which is accumulated in different organs in the body, such as the liver, heart, pancreas, and muscles.

Ectopic fat literally means fat that is located in places where it doesn’t belong. It is dangerous and most of the time it goes undetected. Similar to visceral fat, ectopic fat can cause problems in the body’s metabolic functions and even increase the risks of curious health problems, such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, as well as type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Neeland explains that people with high body mass index and large waistlines have more risk of having ectopic fat. However, even people without these problems can also have hidden fat in their bodies that puts them at risk of the previously mentioned diseases.

So how can one reduce the amount of hidden body fat? The tried and true solution for this is to exercise and have a healthy diet. Dr. Neeland’s research found that exercising is especially beneficial to cut the extra pounds accumulating in your body. Further, a study also found that exercising is more effective than medications to lose fat.

“Diet and aerobic activity are extremely important,” said Dr. Neeland. “They can reduce hidden fat, even without weight loss.”

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