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Abdomen fat tied to high blood pressure in women

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Reuters Health

Friday, September 12, 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study of African Americans and Hispanic Americans, the fat inside the abdominal cavity, known as "visceral adipose tissue,, was associated with high blood pressure in women.

By contrast, this fat did not seem to affect blood pressure in men, according to the report in the American Journal of Hypertension.

"Physicians are aware of the many negative health outcomes associated with obesity, particularly abdominal obesity," Dr. Capri G. Foy commented to Reuters Health. "An all-out offensive could be undertaken to promote healthy behaviors to attain and maintain a healthy weight."

In the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRAS), Foy from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues used CT scans to measure abdominal fat and the better-known "subcutaneous" fat just beneath the skin in 487 African-Americans and 1095 Hispanic-Americans. The results were then correlated with the subjects' blood pressures.

The findings showed that excessive amounts of abdominal fat increased the risk of high blood pressure in women by 47 percent, but did not have a significant effect in men. Moreover, the researchers found that this held true regardless of total body fat levels.

"Physicians have excellent opportunities to perform brief, simple assessments such as measuring waist circumference, that could provide useful information to patients regarding abdominal obesity," Foy said. "Also, physicians could provide simple, brief counseling to patients to engage in physical activity and healthy nutrition, and then follow-up by setting up referrals to other health-promoting organizations, such as fitness clubs and recreation centers."

SOURCE: American Journal of Hypertension, August 2008.

Reuters Health

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