People with Lower Body Fat are at Reduced Risk of Hypertension- American Heart Association Report

Risk of Hypertension

Weight gain patterns are different in every person. Some people are likely to gain more weight in the upper body i.e. stubborn abdominal fat while others mainly women tend to gain fat in thighs, hips, and calves. The new report by the American Heart Association says that people with lower body fat are at lower risk of hypertension than people with abdominal fat. This report will be presented in the coming virtual scientific session on hypertension scheduled for Sept. 10-13, 2020.

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Aayush Visaria from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School is also the lead researcher of this study. According to him, in addition to how much fat a person is, the location of fat also matters. The position of fat may have damaging effects on health but there is also a possibility of some hidden benefits as this study has mentioned one.

Adults who happen to gain more weight around their legs, the risk of hypertension is very less in them. So the fat around legs is not always a bad thing as it may save a person from high blood pressure and its complexities, as per this study.

The researchers identified three levels of blood pressure among people with high-fat tissues around legs. Data from nearly 6000 participants was obtained from the National Health & Nutrition Examination Surveys during the years 2011 and 2016. The average age of these participants was declared as  37 with a 50-50 male to female ratio. Nearly 24% of these participants were hypertensive meaning their blood pressure was constantly over 130/80 mm Hg.

Using the latest scans and imaging, the fat content in the legs was measured and the results were compared with a healthy person’s total fat content. The research team grouped the participants in high and low-fat percentage where the high-fat group included men with at least 34% fat in legs and women with at least 39% fat in legs.

The blood pressure on these people was surprisingly stable and they were an overall less risk of hypertension. This risk was calculated as 61% less than other participants. And that’s not all. These participants were also 53% less likely to get a high diastolic blood pressure and 39% less systolic blood pressure.

After the research team adjusted common factors for these participants such as age, race, medical history, sex, education, cholesterol, waist measurement, etc, the risk of hypertension was still low in people with fat around their legs.

This is a small study but these results are remarkable. Only if it is tested on a larger population, preferably with varied people from a different age, sex, ethnicity, and habits, it will give a clearer picture of the weight and risk of high blood pressure.

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Right now, this study only targeted people with a bigger circumference of the waist and high thigh circumference. But if the risk is calculated with more precise circumference differences, it may present an even better picture of evaluating the hypertension risk for an obese person.

Although obese people are generally at a high risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases but studies like these will help the doctors to formulate better prevention plans, hence saving the lives of these people.

Still, there are some limitations on this study, for example, it didn’t talk about the cause and effects phenomena, the participants are low to obtain valid results, and hypertension should be measured as per different fat content in different body parts as there are high chances of varied results.

It is also necessary to include people from an early age and older age as this current study only investigated the middle-aged group. The results are significant but they cant be applied to the entire population which is why it should be investigated in detail.




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