OBJECTIVE:Lower C2, a continuous blood pressure waveform characteristic asserted to represent small artery elasticity, predicts future cardiovascular disease events. It is hypothesized that the paradoxical positive association between body mass index (BMI) and C2 may reflect muscle instead of excess fat. METHODS:In a multi-ethnic, community-living cohort of 1,960 participants, computed tomography scans of the abdomen were used to measure visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and total abdominal muscle tissue (TAMT), and applanation tonometry of the radial arteries was used to assess C2. The period cross-sectional associations between BMI, TAMT, and VAT with C2 were ascertained. RESULTS:The mean age was 62 ± 9 years and 51% were male. After adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, pack years smoking cigarettes, diabetes, hypertension, and total and HDL cholesterol, higher BMI (standardized beta = 0.09, P-value < 0.01) and more TAMT (standardized beta = 0.12, P-value < 0.01) were significantly associated with higher C2. In contrast, more VAT (standardized beta = -0.09, P-value < 0.01) was associated with lower C2. CONCLUSIONS:In multivariable analysis, VAT, in contrast to TAMT and BMI, was associated with less compliant small arteries. Visceral fat may be a better marker for detrimental excess body fat than BMI.