Understanding the Link Between Obesity and High Blood Pressure
Obesity has been linked with several serious medical risks, including diabetes and heart disease. But it’s also linked to a much more common malady, one that poses serious medical risks all on its own: high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects about one-third of adults in the U.S., and it’s more common among those who are overweight or obese. In fact, one famous study of obesity and hypertension found that obesity accounted for more than one-quarter of all high blood pressure cases, while another study showed weight loss can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure and its related risks.
If you’re overweight or obese, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, here are some things you should know to understand your risks and how to decrease them:
- Where you carry the bulk of your fat matters. Studies have shown that belly fat — or a “beer gut” — is more commonly associated with higher blood pressure as well as a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Weight gain is consistently associated with increases in blood pressure, and the amount of weight gain is directly proportional to the subsequent increase in blood pressure, which means the more weight you’ve gained, the higher your chances for developing higher blood pressure.
- Organ damage can occur as a result of hypertension related to obesity, including damage to the heart and blood vessels. Damaged vessels in turn can make it more difficult for other organs to get the oxygen-rich blood they need to function properly.
Hypertension can be managed to some extent with medication, but one of the best ways to help lower blood pressure – and lower your risks of hypertension-related medical risks – is to lose weight. Medical weight loss programs can help hypertensive men and women lose weight by establishing healthy eating and exercise programs that are designed specifically to work with an individual’s lifestyle and preferences. For most people, supervised weight loss performed in partnership with a weight-loss medical professional is a safe and effective way to lose weight and keep it off and perhaps avoid the risks associated with obesity-related hypertension.