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Circulation. 2012 Dec 18;126(25):2983-9. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.112.117333. Epub 2012 Nov 14.

Body mass index and risk of incident hypertension over the life course: the Johns Hopkins Precursors Study.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2024 E Monument St, Suite 2-200, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



The obesity-hypertension link over the life course has not been well characterized, although the prevalence of obesity and hypertension is increasing in the United States.


We studied the association of body mass index (BMI) in young adulthood, into middle age, and through late life with risk of developing hypertension in 1132 white men of The Johns Hopkins Precursors Study, a prospective cohort study. Over a median follow-up period of 46 years, 508 men developed hypertension. Obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m(2)) in young adulthood was strongly associated with incident hypertension (hazard ratio, 4.17; 95% confidence interval, 2.34-7.42). Overweight (BMI 25 to <30 kg/m(2)) also signaled increased risk (hazard ratio, 1.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.28-1.96). Men of normal weight at age 25 years who became overweight or obese at age 45 years were at increased risk compared with men of normal weight at both times (hazard ratio, 1.57; 95% confidence interval, 1.20-2.07), but not men who were overweight or obese at age 25 years who returned to normal weight at age 45 years (hazard ratio, 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.43-1.92). After adjustment for time-dependent number of cigarettes smoked, cups of coffee taken, alcohol intake, physical activity, parental premature hypertension, and baseline BMI, the rate of change in BMI over the life course increased the risk of incident hypertension in a dose-response fashion, with the highest risk among men with the greatest increase in BMI (hazard ratio, 2.52; 95% confidence interval, 1.82-3.49).


Our findings underscore the importance of higher weight and weight gain in increasing the risk of hypertension from young adulthood through middle age and into late life.

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