The Prestigious Scientific Journal Nature Recognizes the Scientific Work Carried out With the Research Centre of Hospital Laval and at the University Laval

Measuring waist circumference is key to assessing cardiometabolic risk

QUEBEC, Dec. 15 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Today's issue of Nature (Vol #

444) summarizes in an article, signed by both Professor Jean-Pierre Despres

and Doctor Isabelle Lemieux from the University of Laval, the current issues

and status of abdominal obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome. Given the

announced pandemic for this syndrome -- 300 million people will be diagnosed

with diabetes between now and year 2025(1), cardiovascular diseases will have

become the world's leading cause of death by 2010(2), already over one

billion people, mainly among the poor in developed nations, are overweight

(3) --, health policies can no longer ignore the importance of global

Cardiometabolic Risk. This term describes a cluster of metabolic

abnormalities associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes type 2 and,

in particular, abdominal obesity, whose importance as a risk factor has

simply been underestimated for far too long. Yet, measuring it is easy, quick

and inexpensive. Any doctor can do it. All they need to do is remember to

wrap an ordinary tape measure around the waist of their patients at risk.

For the past 20 years now, Professor Jean-Pierre Despres, Director of

Research in Cardiology at the Laval Hospital Research Centre, Scientific

Director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk and Professor at

the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Laval, has conducted numerous

studies with his team on this subject. For him, abdominal obesity is a major

risk factor for diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease. "In light of the

alarming increase of these diseases, we need to do everything we can to help

doctors who treat such patients change their habits and start integrating, in

a more systematic manner, measurements of waist circumference in their daily

practice". For Professor Despres and his team, waist circumference is as

vital a sign as hypertension, smoking and cholesterol for estimating

cardiovascular risk. Indeed, their work has allowed them to show that it can

help determine levels of abdominal adiposity, now recognized as key

contributor to several cardiometabolic dysfunctions.

In the December 14th issue of Nature, Professor Despres and his colleague

Doctor Isabelle Lemieux, have summarized the current state of knowledge

regarding abdominal obesity as a Cardiometabolic Risk factor. According to

Professor Despres: "There is still quite a lot of controversy around the

Metabolic Syndrome and it is precisely this controversial context that has

led Nature to ask us to present key elements of on-going international

debates while putting into perspective the specific areas of our research.

He added: "Our position is quite simple, abdominal obesity is by far, for

reasons shared in the article itself, the most widespread form of the

Metabolic Syndrome. Nevertheless, this should not prevent doctors from also

focussing their attention on more classical risk factors including age,

gender, good and bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, history of tobacco and

diabetes, to evaluate cardiovascular risk in a more holistic manner, or more

precisely Cardiometabolic Risk."

"This publication in Nature underscores the expertise and leadership of

the Laval Hospital Research Centre and University of Laval in this area,"

mentioned Dr. Raymond Leblanc, Deputy Provost of Research at University of

Laval. "Professor Despres and his colleagues, scientists, cardiologists and

heart surgeons were not only pioneers of these important discoveries on the

role of abdominal obesity, but will be increasing their efforts in this area

in order to significantly improve worldwide patient management," added Dr.

Denis Richard, Director of the Laval Hospital Research Centre. According to

him, "The new challenge for our center and our university lies now in our

ability to provide adequate lab facilities, equipment and resources for all

our physicians, scientists and research assistants."

Keeping in mind these constraints, Dr. Francois Philippon, Director of

the Multidisciplinary Department of Cardiology at Laval Hospital stated

that, "The work of Dr. Despres and his team is a key component of our

research activities in cardiology, metabolism and cardiovascular risk

factors. Our team's research and clinical expertise in preventive cardiology

has now achieved international recognition." Dr. Paul Poirier, Medical

Director of the Pavilion for the prevention of cardiovascular disease at

Laval Hospital commented that, "So far, we can be proud of what we have

achieved with limited resources which cannot be compared to those of the

major American research centres working in the same area. However, given

that our environment requires so much research and training of qualified

personnel, we need important funding, especially if we want to continue to

remain on the forefront of knowledge in this field, as is the case today," he


Professor Despres, who has personally been funded by the Canadian

Institutes of Health Research during most of his career, emphasizes the need

to support the establishment and its young research scientists in Quebec and

Canada. "Knowledge development through research will not only allow us to

provide better health care to patients, but also to adapt and implement

preventive care strategies that will have been scientifically proven."

About the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk

Founded in 2005 at University of Laval, the International Chair on

Cardiometabolic Risk is made up of 25 world-renowned international

scientists. Their goals are to develop awareness and knowledge around the

Cardiometabolic Risk factor in order to improve international patient

management. Each year, this group organizes a series of conferences and

debates. Starting 2007, they will be providing physicians and patients with

various educational materials.

About the Laval Hospital

Founded in 1918, Laval Hospital, the heart and lung institute of

University Laval includes cardiology, pneumology, and the surgical management

of obesity departments. The Hospital's expertise includes ambulatory and

hospital care, teaching, research, and the evaluation of health technologies.

About the Laval Hospital Research Centre

The main goal of the Laval Hospital Research Centre is to slow the

obesity epidemic and the progression of cardiac and pulmonary disease through

research and prevention. The Laval Hospital Research Centre has focused its

development around this vision and aims to become the leading North American

research centre in cardiology, pneumology, and obesity.


(1) -- last

accessed on December 11, 2006

(2) -- last accessed on

December 11, 2006

(3) -- last accessed on

December 11, 2006

Source: International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk