Dec. 7 (UPI) -- About two-thirds of all people at a high risk for a heart attack or stroke have extra belly fat, a new study says.
Researchers presented their data of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) EUROASPIRE V survey Friday at the World Congress of Cardiology & Cardiovascular Health in Dubai.
The study revealed that 64 percent of people it studied had a waist circumference 88 cm or more for women and 102 cm or more. Also, 37 percent had a body mass index, or BMI, between 25 to 29.9 kg/m2. About 44 percent BMI 30kg/m2 or above, which is considered obese.
"The survey shows that large proportions of individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease have unhealthy lifestyle habits and uncontrolled blood pressure, lipids and diabetes," Kornelia Kotseva, chair of the EUROASPIRE Steering Committee and study co-author.
Additionally, 47 percent of people taking blood pressure medication reached the blood pressure target below 140/90 mmHg and only 43 percent had an LDL cholesterol number below 2.5 mmol/L.
"These data make it clear that more efforts must be made to improve cardiovascular prevention in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. Our analysis highlights the need for health care systems to invest in prevention."
To reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke, the World Health Organization recommends eating at least five daily servings of fruit and vegetables, keeping salt intake to one tablespoon.
The organization also suggests working out at least 30 minutes a day and eliminating smoking.
According to the EUROASPIRE survey, close to 18 percent of the people studied smoked smokers and only worked out daily for at least 30 minutes, five times per week.
"Public health initiatives will also help to prevent heart disease and stroke," Kotseva said. "This includes smoking bans, taxing foods high in sugar and saturated fat, and providing areas for exercise."