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weight and blood pressure

Is there a connection between weight and high blood pressure?

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Excess body weight and high blood pressure are two serious health conditions that lead to life-threatening complications. About one in three adults in the U.S. (or about 75 million people) have high blood pressure. Understanding the link between the two can help you improve your overall health and reduce risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

The infamous Framingham Heart Study estimated that excess body weight accounted for approximately 26 percent of cases of hypertension (high blood pressure) in men and 28 percent in women. High amounts of fatty tissue in the body make the body work harder to pump blood throughout the body, thus causing blood pressure to rise.

Being overweight may make you more likely to develop hypertension because blood pressure often rises as weight increases. But not all body fat is equal when it comes to high blood pressure. Body fat that is distributed around the middle — in the abdominal cavity — increases your likelihood of developing hypertension.

The intimate connection between weight and blood pressure should be taken seriously. The risk of heart disease also increases for people who are overweight with excess abdominal fat and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of diabetes or is a male who was obese before age 40.

High blood pressure is typically treated with medications to normalize blood pressure. However, for many patients, there is a connection between weight loss and blood pressure. Losing weight has a significant impact on blood pressure, resulting in a decrease in blood pressure. As blood pressure declines, a patient’s dependency on blood pressure medications is reduced or altogether eliminated.

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, weight loss surgery is associated with improvement or resolution of obesity-related co-morbidities, including high blood pressure. One study looking specifically at gastric bypass surgery and its link to improved blood pressure levels found that hypertension was resolved in 54 percent of patients and improved in 15 percent. The study also found “a significant relationship between the percentage of excess weight lost and improvement of hypertension.”

Carrying around excess body weight isn’t just an inconvenience. It is a true health concern. Obesity is proven to be related to hypertension, and a proven correlation exists between hypertension and numerous other diseases that can affect life expectancy, such as heart disease.

If you are overweight or obese, don’t delay weight loss any longer. Making the decision to lose weight today could save your life. Contact your First Baptist Medical Center weight loss doctor to learn more about how weight loss surgery could help lower your high blood pressure.