A new way to assess risk of heart attack.

Allison J. Cleary

A new way to assess risk of heart attack.

Just when you've gotten used to the BMI, or Body Mass Index, as the most cutting edge way of assessing your health risks, research raises a new finger of hesitation.

It turns out that, at least when it comes to assessing the risk of heart attacks, the ratio between your waist and hip measurements is a much stronger indicator than that of the BMI, according to a study from Canada's McMaster University on more than 27,000 people worldwide. A higher ratio may indicate more abdominal fat while a lower one may indicate more lower-body muscle.

To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, measure your waist and hip circumferences with a snug tape measure, then divide the former number by the latter. Women with a ratio of 0.85 and above and men with a ratio of 0.90 or above are at increased risk of heart attack at some point in their lives and should seek advice from their physician.