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A Woman's Heart, the Waist-Hip Ratio

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I used to tell people that I was shaped like a triangle – small (at the bust) – medium (at the waist) and large (at the hips). My father, in all the well-meaning, kindness that only a daddy can give, used to tell me that I’d be glad for those wide, heavy hips when it came time for childbirth. Somehow, this was not exactly that boost that my 13-year old ego was looking for!

I’ve always wondered what these hips were good for besides childbirth and making it almost impossible to find a pair jeans that fit properly. (You know the drill – if the hips fit, there was a good 5 inch gap in the waistband!) Science has finally caught up and it now appears as if these heavy hips and thunder thighs may just be good for our heart!

Most of us have heard that carrying our weight in our tummies is not good for our heart health. While there are some differences between different ethnicities, a waist measurement for a woman of more than 35 inches is considered to be a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. Research now indicates that your waist-to-hip-relationship-measurement may be a more accurate representation of your risk for developing cardiovascular disease than waist measurement alone.

According to the research, the bigger your waist is in relationship to your hips, the greater your risk is for developing heart disease. One 2007 study reported that men who had higher waist/hip rations were at a 55% greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease than were their counterparts with a lower waist/hip ratio. Fifty-five percent sounded fairly high to me! At least, it sounded high until I read the numbers for women. Women with the highest waist/hip ratios were found to be 91% (yes, ladies, you heard me correctly on that one!) more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their counter-parts with a lower waist/hip ratio. All I can say to that is OUCH!

The target ranges for the waist/hip measurements are as follows:

Low risk: 0.80 or below
Moderate risk: 0.81 – 0.85
High risk: above 0.85

Low risk: 0.95 or below
Moderate risk: 0.96 – 1
High risk: above 1

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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