Body fat percentage can tell you about risk of heart disease

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Even though you may feel alright, how do you know if your heart is really strong and healthy? A little machine called the Bod Pod can be an eye opened when it comes to your health. 

We followed Lillian Johnson into the Bod Pod, and, in a matter of seconds it tells her exactly how much body fat she has. 

Lillian, who's in her early 60s, is at the Women's Heart Center at Henry Ford Health going through a lifestyle enhancement visit. Using air displacement technology, the Bod Pod determines body fat percentage. 

"So, based on the test today, your body fat is about 30 percent which, for a woman in your early 60s, is excellent. Great job," says Dr. Deidre Mattina.  

That's significant because Lillian's close to the age her mother was when she died from a heart attack. Her mother had blocked arteries. 

"My mother died of heart disease in her early 60s. I just think it's very important to know your numbers; blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar," Lillian says. 

Dr. Mattina says body fat percentage can tell you a lot about your risk for heart disease. 

"We know that fat around our internal organs is basically what increases our heart risk," she explains. 

Next, Lillian moves on to the treadmill as part of a detailed two-hour evaluation. 

"Rather than just the willy nilly, you should exercise and lose weight, we want to give specifics on how much, how long and what intensity [you should exercise]," says Dr. Mattina. 

As a retired Army nurse, Lillian is impressive on the treadmill, and, while she admits to loving ice cream, she also knows this truth. 

"I'm not getting any taller and I don't want to get any wider," she says. 

Lillian will walk out of this appointment knowing what she needs to eat, how much to exercise and how far to push and how to listen to her body.  For anyone just getting started, some doctor's advice:

"The biggest benefit people are going to get is from doing nothing to doing something," says Dr. Mattina. "It's the couch potato to, just, get up and take a walk around the block; that is where we see the biggest benefit."

The lifestyle enhancement visit is covered by most insurance plans. You can learn more about the visit online here: