Is obesity-related hypertension less of a cardiovascular risk? The Framingham Study

Am Heart J. 1990 Nov;120(5):1195-201. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(90)90136-l.


The hypothesis that obesity-related hypertension is relatively innocuous was explored by an examination of cardiovascular events over 34 years of follow-up when related to biennially measured weights and blood pressures using time-dependent covariate proportional hazards analysis. The 5209 participants were also classified by age, cigarette smoking, and antihypertensive treatment at each of four baseline examinations with 8-year follow-up periods. Over the period of follow-up, there were 978 cardiovascular events in men and 836 in women. Risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in general and of CHD in particular was as strongly related to hypertension at all levels of body mass index. This was also found to apply when adjustment was made for possible confounding by cigarette smoking. Age and smoking-adjusted absolute risks of cardiovascular events were found to be higher in hypertensive individuals with high than with low BMIs. Furthermore, the relative risk of cardiovascular disease did not vary significantly with BMI. Thus hypertension is at least as dangerous in obese as in lean persons at all ages in either sex, providing no support for the hypothesis that hypertension in the obese is more benign. This is important, since obesity predisposes to hypertension and most who have hypertension are obese. This report examines the hypothesis for CVD outcomes considered by previous reports and also the subcategories of CVD disease such as myocardial infarction and stroke, and includes data on both men and women and on young and old.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk