'Bear belly' can lead to hypertension

'Bear belly' can lead to hypertensionWashington, Sept 2 - A new study had discovered that people with belly fat face more risk of developing hypertension than the ones who are obese overall.

Obesity is a known risk factor for hypertension, or high blood pressure, and it has been widely reported that the location of fat on a person's body could lead to increased risk of other health issues like heart disease and cancer. However, the relationship between hypertension and overall obesity versus site-specific fat accumulation has been unclear.

For the study, 903 patients enrolled in the Dallas Heart Study were followed for an average of seven years to track development of hypertension. Hypertension was classified as a systolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 140, diastolic blood pressure of greater or equal to 90, or initiation of blood pressure medications. Patients also received imaging of visceral fat, or fat located deep in the abdominal cavity between the organs; subcutaneous fat, or visible fat located all over the body; and lower-body fat.

Senior author Aslan T. Turer, at the University of Texas, said that generally, visceral fat stores correlated with the 'apple shape' as opposed to the 'pear shape,' hence the centrally located fat, when one looked in the mirror, tended to correlate with higher levels of fat inside the abdomen.

At the end of the study period, 25 percent of patients developed hypertension. While higher BMI was associated with increased incidence of hypertension, when abdominal fat content, overall fat content and lower-body fat content were factored in, only abdominal fat remained independently associated with hypertension. The relationship between abdominal fat and hypertension did not change when factoring in gender, age or race.

The strongest correlation between abdominal fat and hypertension was observed with retroperitoneal fat, which is a type of visceral fat located behind the abdominal cavity and largely around the kidneys.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (ANI)