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December 5, 1986

Does Obesity Protect Hypertensives Against Cardiovascular Disease?

Author Affiliations

From the Honolulu Heart Program (Drs Bloom, Yano, and MacLean) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Honolulu Heart Program (Dr Reed).

JAMA. 1986;256(21):2972-2975. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380210068026

Recent studies suggest that obesity may protect hypertensives against cardiovascular disease (CVD). This concept was investigated by the Honolulu Heart Program, a prospective epidemiologic study of CVD in a cohort of Japanese-American men aged 45 to 65 years who have been followed up for 12 years. The combined effect of body mass index (BMI), as a measure of obesity, and blood pressure on coronary heart disease and CVD incidence was examined in 7554 men who were free of CVD and cancer at baseline. Rates of coronary heart disease and CVD were higher in the most obese than in the nonobese men for both normotensives and hypertensives. Blood pressure-BMI interaction was not significant for any CVD end point. Hypertension was associated with higher rates of coronary heart disease and CVD at all levels of BMI. This study supports the conclusion that hypertension is associated with an increased risk of CVD in both obese and nonobese men and that the relationship of blood pressure to CVD incidence does not vary with level of BMI. The inclusion of prevalent cases of CVD and the collapsing of continuous data into two categories may explain the results of earlier studies.

(JAMA 1986;256:2972-2975)