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Does Obesity Increase Blood Pressure?

This article discusses the link between obesity and high blood pressure, the health effects of hypertension, and ways to lower blood pressure. It also explores other health issues related to obesity and offers tips on losing weight.

Gabrielle Hungate
June 6, 2022

Does Obesity Increase Blood Pressure?

Obesity is one of the common epidemics in the United States. Based on a study done by Harvard University, 69% of adults in the United States are considered overweight and 1 out of 3 are considered obese. These numbers can vary and can be as high as half based on the study. Being overweight and obese can lead to high blood pressure, known as hypertension.  Based on the American Heart Association, any excess weight is a cause for hypertension and can be attributed to up to 75% of hypertension.

Fat tissue releases leptin, which is a hormone that is released into the bloodstream. This will then send a signal to the hypothalamus. This is the part of that brain that affects heart rate, hunger and mood. As fat increases, the leptin then lets the body know that it has obtained enough energy. This is one that blood pressure can be increased.

What Exactly is Hypertension?

High blood pressure and hypertension is a term that is used very loosely in modern day society. It almost may seem that everyone has high blood pressure or is on medication to help control it. Much of that could be based on what we are eating and putting into our bodies. High blood pressure is considered anything when your systolic pressure is over 120 to 129 or over and your diastolic is over 80. Based on the American Heart Association, the force of blood in your vessels is too high.

There are a variety of symptoms that can come along with hypertension. Some of those symptoms can be headaches, vision issues, chest pain or fatigue or heartbeat abnormalities. These are just to name a few. There are several other health issues that can be stemmed from having hypertension. High blood pressure can lead to heart attack or strokes, eye complications, kidney issues, diabetes or dementia. 

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

Developing high blood pressure is not something that develops overnight. This is typically something that can happen over a long period of time, that can stem from lifestyle or even genetics. Being overweight can increase your risk of obtaining hypertension. Some other factors that can cause high blood pressure is an increase in sodium intake, high alcohol consumption and high salt content in your diet. Smoking can also increase your chances of developing hypertension as well. The nicotine that is the ingredient in cigarettes can increase epinephrine, which will increase blood pressure. Chronic stress is another contributor to high blood pressure. When experiencing long term or chronic stress, your body releases hormones that cause your blood vessels to narrow.  Having multiple risk factors can increase trifold and should be addressed by a cardiologist. High blood pressure can start as young as your 20s, and can increase in your 40s. 

How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

There are a variety of healthy choices that you can make to lower your blood pressure. The choices may be different for everyone. Working together with a cardiologist and a Nutritionist may be a great place to start to see what is best for you. Developing a heart healthy diet is a great place to start. Reducing salt and high calorie and high fat diets are a place to start. Based on the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet is a heart healthy plan that encourages, Healthy fats like salmon, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Reducing salt within your diet is also a helpful tool. There are high amounts of salt in most processed foods like chips and snack foods. Sticking to whole foods will help automatically keep out unnecessary sodium. Reducing stress is another tool in your toolbelt to lower blood pressure. Seeking out a therapist or practicing yoga and meditation are quick ways to start controlling your breathing and finding more peace internally. 

Developing a sustainable exercise plan that works well for your schedule will start to get you on the right track. When you exercise regularly, it can actually strengthen your heart. When this happens, it lightens the load on your arteries. As this happens, blood pressure will lower. Exercise is also a stress reliever as well. It releases positive hormones within your body, such as dopamine and serotonin. This is a win win! If you are a smoker, take the steps to quit if you are able. When drinking high amounts of alcohol, this can increase the hormone renin. This hormone will make your vessels increase in tightness. This will in turn cause high blood pressure. Cutting back on alcohol is yet another tool in the fight against high blood pressure. When many of these options fail, there is a place where medication may be necessary. Talk to your physician about what may be right for you.

Other Health Effects of Obesity

With obesity being such a large factor in high blood pressure, it is no surprise that there are many other health issues that can come along with being obese. Per the CDC, some other comorbidities of obesity are high cholesterol, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, depression and anxiety and various joint pains.  Obesity is considered as being a Body Mass Index of over 30%. Once this sets in, the weight can add more pressure to knees and back, which can increase pain. This can lead to a low quality of life and continuous sedentary behavior. Gout is another side effect of obesity. Gout is a type of arthritis that stems from too much uric acid in the blood. This can cause pain and swelling in affected areas.

How to Lose Weight if You Have Obesity

Losing weight can be an ongoing struggle for many and can often be lifelong. Weight loss is a huge factor in the battle to bring blood pressure down. There are many different ways to lose weight and some tools will work for some and not for others. It is important to find a routine that is realistic for the long term and does not feel like a diet program. Programs that focus on 100% restriction tend to work well in the short term, but may end up with another gain in weight later on. As mentioned earlier, starting a healthy exercise plan is an all encompassing way to lose weight. Sometimes, just walking 30 minutes a day 5 days a week is enough to get your heart pumping. Start off slow and work your way as needed and do not put too much pressure on yourself. A gradual increase is a great way to stay on target and develop new habits. Obtain a personal trainer, so they can decide the best routine based on where you are at in your journey. A nutrient dense diet plays a critical role in dropping some of those pounds. Eating whole foods such as whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will give you the fuel you need to provide energy to help with exercise. Finding a healthy calorie amount that is sustainable long term will help keep you from overeating. Restricting calories too much, may cause energy drops and will not be easy to stick to and may lead to eating the wrong foods later. Making this process fun can be crucial. Find a partner to do this with and swap recipes. Once a week, pick a new food that you have not tried and challenge yourself to do something new. Buy a new cookbook with heart healthy recipes and do something new each week. Meeting with a practitioner to learn of different weight loss medications may be what is needed for you to give you the start that you need. Once your mindset is in place, the sky can be the limit.

Alfie is a great place to start your journey with weight loss and lowering your blood pressure. Alfie is an all encompassing weight loss program. You will meet with a knowledgeable practitioner that is well versed in the weight loss medication that will work best for you and your body. Many of the new medications are effective in helping individuals get going and give them the motivation that they need. Asking for help may be challenging, but may be one of the best decisions that you ever made.   You will also be partnered with a Health Coach that will guide you on all aspects of nutrition, exercise and what type of program will be good for you and sleep. Many other issues can be addressed as well. Our life can often get in the way, it may be a matter of just trying to organize it. The most challenging part of starting this new life is knowing where to go to start. Having a holistic mindset is key, as there is not just one way to do things and we are all different. Working with lifestyle changes in conjunction with medication, may be just what you need to change trajectory. Reach out to Alfie today to start the discussion on what you are looking for and what you need.