"You're not supposed to store fat in the heart, but patients who suffer from obesity, diabetes or heart disease tend to store more fat in the heart," Nelson said.
Interpretation of these data is always difficult however, because these patients also tend to have other cardiovascular abnormalities, such as insulin resistance and hypertension.
Our study attempts to address this previous limitation."
Nelson and his team of researchers will spend the next five years studying 60 healthy subjects - 15 men and 45 women - between the ages of 18 and 30 to better understand the links between different factors.
"The incidence of heart disease in premenopausal women is much less than their age-matched male counterparts," Nelson said.
"After menopause, however, women quickly catch up to men, and in some cases, surpass them."