Excess fat around the heart can be dangerous regardless of your weight, research suggests

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Fat around the heart, known as pericardial fat, can double the risk of heart failure, a study found.

But being lean may not mean you’re healthy – even people who aren’t obese or overweight can have this type of fat.

To protect your heart, follow a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and mostly unprocessed whole foods.

Having excess fat tissue around your heart could double your risk of heart failure, according to a study published June 1 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers from Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, and other universities analyzed data from 6,785 older adult men and women over an average span of 16 years, comparing the level of fat around their hearts with their likelihood of developing heart failure.

They found that a higher amount of pericardial fat – or fat tissue surrounding the heart – was linked to a higher risk of developing heart failure. Women with more pericardial fat were twice as likely to develop heart failure, while men were 50 percent more likely than peers with less pericardial fat to develop heart failure, according to the data.

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