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Riskiest Places to Have Body Fat Revealed in Hypertension Study

Update Date: Sep 01, 2014 04:25 PM EDT

Excess fat is never good. However, new research fats sitting in certain areas of the body is more dangerous fats located in other places.

The study revealed that people excess belly fat are significantly more likely than others with similar body mass index to develop hypertension.

The latest study involved 903 patients who were enrolled in the Dallas Heart Study. Participants were followed for an average of seven years. Researchers monitored participants'' blood pressure. The study defined hypertension as having 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.

"Generally speaking, visceral fat stores correlate with the 'apple shape' as opposed to the 'pear shape,' so having centrally located fat when you look in the mirror tends to correlate with higher levels of fat inside the abdomen," senior author Aslan T. Turer, M.D., M.H.S., a cardiologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said in a news release.

Researchers said that 25 percent of participants developed hypertension at the end of the study period. Those with higher BMIs were more likely to develop high blood pressure. However, after examining abdominal fat content, overall fat content and lower-body fat content separately, researchers found that belly fat remained independently associated with hypertension. Researchers said the findings held true regardless of gender, age or ethnicity.

The study also revealed that retroperitoneal fat, which is a type of visceral fat found behind the abdominal cavity and largely around the kidneys, was associated with the most hypertension risk.

 "The high incidence of hypertension and presence of retroperiotoneal fat could suggest that the effects from fat around the kidneys are influencing the development of hypertension," Turer said. "This link could open new avenues for the prevention and management of hypertension. The finding of the fat around the kidney is a novel one and we do not know specifically what the 'in the mirror' correlates are."

The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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