Adiposity assessment: explaining the association between obesity, hypertension and stroke

Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2011 Dec;9(12):1557-64. doi: 10.1586/erc.11.167.


Obesity is associated with a greater prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and a higher risk of cardiovascular events, and contributes to the rise in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. Increased BMI is established as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Attention has recently been drawn to alternate measures of adiposity/obesity, such as waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and waist-to-height ratio, that provide information regarding body fat distribution. Although BMI is the established clinical measurement to estimate CVD risk associated with excess bodyweight, there is evidence suggesting that abdominal obesity could represent a better marker of CVD risk than BMI. It is now recognized that abdominally obese individuals tend to have higher blood pressure. A major cardiovascular risk factor associated with stroke is systemic hypertension followed closely by obesity. Clinical adiposity indices used to describe obesity linked with systemic hypertension and stroke incidence are reviewed in this article. In summary, BMI, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and waist-to-height ratio measurements are all useful tools for assessing adiposity/obesity in clinical practice, and should be evaluated with other cardiometabolic risk factors to refine cardiovascular risk stratification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / pathology
  • Adiposity*
  • Body Fat Distribution*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Obesity / mortality
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / pathology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio