"Having centrally located fat when you look in the mirror tends to correlate with higher levels of fat inside the abdomen," said senior author Aslan Turer from the University of Texas, Dallas.

For this study, researchers followed 903 patients for an average of seven years to track development of hypertension.

When abdominal fat content, overall fat content and lower body fat content were factored in, only abdominal fat remained independently associated with hypertension.

The relationship between abdominal fat and hypertension did not change when factoring in gender, age or race.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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