Globally, hypertension and obesity are becoming increasingly big problems as there appears to be a significant link between the two conditions. The 1948 Framingham Heart Study, which identified the common factors contributing to cardiovascular disease, has found that approximately 78% of hypertension cases in men and 65% of cases in women can be directly attributed to obesity.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension is a medical condition that rarely has any noticeable symptoms. It refers to the pressure that blood applies to the inner walls of the arteries being persistently elevated. If blood pressure is too high, it puts added strain on the blood vessels, heart, and other organs (such as the brain, kidneys, and eyes). Persistent hypertension can increase the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke, which can be life-threatening. Blood pressure is recorded with a systolic pressure reading (the force at which the heart pumps blood around the body) and a diastolic pressure reading (the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels). Both are measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). The systolic pressure is the higher number and the diastolic pressure is the lower number. Ideal blood pressure is usually considered equal to or less than 120/80mmHg. A reading of 120/80mmHg -139/89mmHg could suggest there is a risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure), while high blood pressure shows a reading of 140/90mmHg or higher.
Obesity and Heart Conditions
Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Individuals with obesity have more fatty tissue that increases their vascular resistance (the resistance that must be overcome to push blood through the circulatory system and create flow), which then increases the work the heart has to do to pump blood throughout the body.
Obesity has been linked to high blood pressure and other significant health conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, and adult-onset type 2 diabetes. Those with abdominal or upper body obesity are at the greatest risk of developing hypertension and other weight-related health conditions. Abdominal obesity is defined by a waist circumference greater than 102 cm/40in for men and 88ch/35in for women. Abdominal-obesity is thought to be responsible for the higher risk of hypertension due to the high rate of flow of the fatty acids and hormones into the liver from the abdominal fat deposits.
There is also recent research to indicate that hypertension in obesity may be related to problems in the endothelial cells that line the small arteries in the body which control blood pressure. Endothelial cells form the barrier between vessels and tissues and control the flow of substances and fluid in and out of the tissues. A protein (called TRPV4) on the membranes surrounding the cells, under healthy conditions, allows calcium to enter the cells and maintains normal blood pressure. Obesity is thought to affect this protein within the subsections of the cell membrane, causing it to function incorrectly, lowering calcium entry into the cells. Without the correct amount of calcium entering the cells, blood pressure becomes elevated.
Among research carried out in the Framingham Heart Study, it revealed that a 5% weight gain increases the risk of hypertension by 30% in a four-year time period, however, even small amounts of weight loss were found to significantly reduce blood pressure. In one follow-up study of 181 overweight patients with hypertension, it found that a 10% weight-loss produced an average fall of 4.3/3.8mmHg in blood pressure.
Lifestyle changes, including a healthier diet, weight loss (if overweight), exercise, and giving up smoking can significantly lower and prevent hypertension. Medication may also be necessary to keep blood pressure under control. Speak to your doctor for advice if you suspect you may have hypertension.
Comprehensive Health Care in Sherman, Texas
If you would like to learn more about the links between hypertension and obesity, contact Carrus Health. Our aim is to deliver exceptional comprehensive medical care, in a caring and relaxed atmosphere, for our patients and their families through all stages of life. For more information about our primary care services, call us today at (903) 870-2600.