NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is associated with hypertension in African-American and Hispanic-American women, but not men, according to a report in the August issue of 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.”

Dr. Foy from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues investigated the relationship between CT-measured VAT, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), and hypertension among 487 African-Americans and 1095 Hispanic-Americans in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Family Study (IRAS).

Overall, the researchers report, participants with hypertension had higher mean body-mass index (BMI), VAT, SAT, and VAT-to-SAT ratio and lower insulin sensitivity than did participants without hypertension.

In women, VAT was significantly associated with increased risk of hypertension (odds ratio 1.47) after adjustment for fasting glucose, BMI, and insulin sensitivity, whereas the relationship lost significance in men after adjustment for BMI and SAT.

“These results suggest that VAT, independent of total body adiposity, is associated with prevalent hypertension,” the investigators conclude.

“Physicians have excellent opportunities to perform brief, simple assessments such as measuring waist circumference, that could provide useful information to patients regarding abdominal obesity,” Dr. 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.”

Am J Hypertens 2008;21:910-916.