Background: The objective of our study was to determine the respective contributions of waist circumference and systemic hypertension (HTN) to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in a large population-based cohort representative of a contemporary European population.
Methods and results: A total of 9580 men and 12 250 women aged 45–79 years were followed for 11.4 years. Over the follow-up, 2191 CHD events were recorded. After adjusting for traditional CHD risk factors, individuals with high blood pressure (BP) and high waist circumference were at an increased CHD risk [hazard ratio 3.04; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.06–4.48 and 2.90 (1.85–4.55) in men and women, respectively], compared with individuals with both low waist circumference and BP. Among individuals with normal BP, those in the top waist circumference tertile were at an increased CHD risk compared with those in the bottom waist circumference tertile (hazard ratio 2.66; 95% CI 1.59–4.45 and 2.11; 95% CI 1.12–3.97 in men and women, respectively). Within each physical activity category, a linear positive association was observed between waist circumference tertiles and both SBP (P for trend <0.001) and DBP (P for trend <0.001). Within each waist circumference tertile, inactive individuals had higher SBP than active individuals (P for trend <0.001).
Conclusion: Our results show that abdominal obesity (measured by waist circumference) and HTN had both independent and additive contributions to CHD risk. We also found that physical inactivity and abdominal obesity contribute to elevated BP in primary prevention settings.