HealthDay News — The association between obesity and the development of hypertension may be driven specifically by visceral adiposity, according to researchers.

“Obesity has been linked to the development of hypertension, but whether total adiposity or site-specific fat accumulation underpins this relationship is unclear,” explained Alvin Chandra, MD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

To monitor the link between visceral adiposity and the development of hypertension, the inspectors followed 903 normotensive participants of the Dallas Heart Study (median age, 40 years; 57% women; 60% nonwhite; median body mass index, 27.5 kg/m²) for a median of seven years. Imaging studies were used to assess adiposity.

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Higher body mass index was significantly associated with incident hypertension in multivariable analysis (relative risk, 1.24; 95% CI: 1.12-1.36 per one standard deviation increase) reported the investigators. When measures of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), subcutaneous adipose tissue, and lower-body fat were included in the model, the only variable that remained independently associated with incident hypertension was VAT (relative risk, 1.22, 95% CI: 1.06-1.39 per one standard deviation increase).

“Increased visceral adiposity, but not total or subcutaneous adiposity, was robustly associated with incident hypertension,” concluded the researchers. “Additional studies will be needed to elucidate the mechanisms behind this association.”


  1. Chandra A et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.05.057

Disclosures: Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.