According to a new study, beer guts and muffin tops are not just embarrassing but they can also be deadly. This study showcases that a big belly increases the risk of death for people with heart disease despite having a healthy body mass index (BMI).

Mayo Clinic researchers actually analyzed data from around 16,000 patients with coronary artery disease. They acquired patient data from around the world. Results showed that the death rate was twice higher for patients that have extra weight in the middle part of their body compared to people who carry weight elsewhere in the body. Doctors call this central obesity.

According to the author of the study, Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, people that have fat mostly located in other parts of the body, specifically the buttocks and legs, don't present this higher risk.  This study only focused on heart patients, but actually, experts say that central weight is risky for all.

Dr. Ken Fujioka, who is a director at the Scripps Clinic Center for Weight Management, said that central fat is definitely an issue and it also heightens the risk of cardiovascular problems.

For decades, doctors have stressed the importance of having a healthy BMI range, which is between 18.5 up to 24.9. The recent study however, seems to cast doubt whether to rely on the simple gauge of body weight alone or not.

According to Dr. Thais Coutinhho, who is also an author of the study, BMI is simply a measure of height and weight proportion. He claims that what is more important is how the actual fats get distributed all over the body.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology published this study during its May 10 issue.