Obesity is a health concern in and of itself, but it rarely exists in isolation. Most individuals who are overweight struggle with comorbidities, chronic conditions associated with — and as serious as — obesity. For example, carrying extra weight puts you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea and even some forms of cancer.
Of all these comorbidities, hypertension or high blood pressure may be the most common. Currently, as many as 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Hypertension accounts for more doctor office visits and drug prescriptions that almost any other condition. According to the groundbreaking Framingham Heart Study, excess body weight is a significant factor in between 25 and 30 percent of all hypertension diagnoses. Further, excess body weight accounts for approximately 23 percent of incidences of heart disease in men and 15 percent in women.
Individuals who are overweight or obese have more fatty tissue. To deliver blood to this tissue, their hearts have to work harder. Blood pressure refers to the pressure that blood applies to the inner walls of the arteries as it circulates. Each heartbeat has two phases. In the systole, the cardiac muscle contracts and pumps blood into the body’s arteries. During the diastole, the cardiac muscle relaxes, allowing blood to flow back into its ventricles in preparation for the next systole.
When a nurse or doctor takes your blood pressure, they measure both systolic and diastolic pressure. The systolic pressure is the upper number — the “over” — and the diastolic the lower. Blood pressure is calculated using mmHg (millimeters of mercury) a standard unit for measuring pressure. Normal blood pressure is defined as being less than or equal to 120 mmHg/80 mmHg. Those with prehypertension have blood pressure readings in the 120-139/80-89 range. In stage 1 hypertension, blood pressure can rise as high 140-159/90-99, and, in stage 2, is greater 160/100.
Hypertension is a significant health problem that can have deadly implications. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage or weaken blood vessels in the body, including the brain. If blood vessels in the brain become narrowed, or should they rupture, it can result in a stroke. High blood pressure can also contribute to the formation of blood clots in the arteries up through the next and enter the cranium. Strokes can also occur when those arteries become blocked and blood cannot flow freely to the brain.
Unchecked weight gain and excess body weight — particularly around the waist — can lead to hypertension. Likewise, weight loss can cause a significant reduction in blood pressure, thus lowering your risk of suffering from a cardiac arrest or a stroke. Research suggests that dropping just 10 percent of your body weight can result in a 4.3/3.8 reduction (on average) in blood pressure.
A doctor will prescribe medication to help manage your blood pressure if diagnosed with hypertension. Positive lifestyle changes and support your general health will help reduce your dependence on these drugs. If you’re ready to give your heart a helping hand, contact McCarty Weight Loss Center and start losing weight today.