Insulin Resistance, Low Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Increased Exercise Blood Pressure: Contribution of Abdominal Obesity

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Individuals with insulin resistance and low cardiorespiratory fitness are frequently found to have an increased waist circumference and high exercise blood pressure. We tested the hypothesis that the relationships among insulin resistance, low cardiorespiratory fitness, and increased exercise blood pressure may be mediated by an elevated waist circumference. This study included 317 apparently healthy men and women (mean age: 34.8±12.8 years; mean body mass index: 26.1±5.2 kg/m2). Exercise blood pressure values were measured using a submaximal ergometer test evaluating physical working capacity. Plasma insulin and glucose levels were measured during a 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Multivariate regression analyses showed that waist circumference accounted for 32.8% (P<0.0001) and 45.1% (P<0.0001) of the variance in exercise systolic blood pressure in men and women, respectively. Participants were classified into tertiles according to either insulin response, measured during the oral glucose tolerance test, or fitness levels and then further subdivided into 2 subgroups using sex-specific waist circumference thresholds. Individuals with an increased waist circumference (≥94 cm and ≥80 cm for men and women, respectively) had higher exercise systolic blood pressure compared with individuals with low waist circumference, irrespective of their level of insulin resistance (10.6 versus 6.8, 12.2 versus 7.7, and 13.2 versus 8.7 mm Hg/metabolic equivalent, respectively, for the low, intermediate, and high tertiles; P<0.05) or fitness levels (13.1 versus 8.2, 12.0 versus 7.9, and 10.6 versus 7.1 mm Hg/metabolic equivalent, respectively, for the low, intermediate, and high tertiles; P<0.05). Individuals with a higher waist circumference have elevated exercise systolic blood pressure, regardless of their insulin sensitivity or level of cardiorespiratory fitness.

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