Obesity and Hypertension: Breaking the Deadly Link
Statistics aren’t always boring. There are many statistics about hypertension (high blood pressure) and obesity – and all are (or should be) alarming. Both are major health problems in the United States, and the subject of intense medical research. Increased awareness of the link between obesity and hypertension is leading to new campaigns to educate people to lead healthier lives. While some of the more sobering statistics follow, the optimistic message is that it is possible to take ownership of your health and get the help and motivation you need to reduce – or eliminate – your risk.
The Grim Statistics on Obesity & Hypertension
According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults has high blood pressure, a leading cause of stroke. Approximately 30 percent of hypertension cases may be attributable to obesity, and the figure may be as high as 60 percent in men under age 45. People who are overweight are more likely to have high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats and high LDL (bad cholesterol), which are all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These disturbing statistics are courtesy of The State of Obesity, a project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Our March, 2018 blog post, Obesity and Heart Disease: How to Lose Weight and Keep Your Heart Healthy, focused on the link between these conditions, and a balanced approach to achieving a healthy weight. The Obesity Action Collation (OAC) includes a study by Jaymee Delaney, MD, which states that people with obesity are more likely to have hypertension. There are 58 to 65 million U.S. adults who have hypertension, which is the most common reason for office visits of non-pregnant adults to their physicians and for the use of prescription drugs.
Dr. Delaney also notes, “… anti-hypertension medications should be started if hypertension is diagnosed. But, with weight loss, a significant fall in blood pressure may permit a decrease in the number of medications taken or decrease the amount of medication taken. Prevention would be better than any drug.”
One example Dr. Delaney mentions is the DASH diet, which was the subject of our April, 2018 blog post. This popular diet was initially developed for people who want to take control of their hypertension. But the diet soon gained traction among dieters, who found it helped them lose weight more effectively.
Need More Help? Try The 10 Day BP Challenge
The DASH diet is one of the more high-profile programs that encourage people to be proactive in preventing or reversing hypertension. But another program with the same goal is gaining an enthusiastic following: the 10 Day BP Challenge.
The challenge originates with the BP Owl website – an online resource of articles on diet, exercise, relaxation and other non-medication ways to manage hypertension. The 10 Day BP Challenge is an app you can download to access a step-by-step program designed to help reduce high blood pressure through diet and lifestyle changes, monitored regularly over a 10-day period via the app. There is a free trial period, after which users must pay to continue the program.
BP Owl also has a social media presence, with Facebook and Twitter pages for sharing advice, tips and inspiration for following a healthy lifestyle.
The emphasis on lifestyle is key to reducing blood pressure or keeping it within normal range. So what’s considered normal and high blood pressure? Physicians use the following:
Normal blood pressure: systolic (top number) equal to or less than 120 mmHg and diastolic (lower number) equal to or less than 80 mmHg
Pre-hypertension: systolic 120-139 mmHg or diastolic 80-89 mmHg
Stage 1: systolic 140-159 mmHg or diastolic 90-99 mmHg
Stage 2: systolic greater than or equal to 160 mmHg or diastolic greater than or equal 100 mmHg
While the 10 Day BP Challenge and DASH diet can be helpful programs, you may still want to consider other options. Our experienced physicians at Solutions Weight Loss are here to provide you with an individual, medically supervised plan to help you meet your goals. We also apply advanced weight loss treatments and protocols that are not available over the counter. We welcome you to schedule a consultation to discuss the best program for you.
Obesity is a global epidemic in both adults and children. It is a major health problem in the United States, as one out of every three Americans is considered obese. Obesity is known to be a risk factor for many life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease (also referred to as cardiovascular or coronary artery disease). It is also known to increase the chances of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, and some forms of cancer.
Obesity in America: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 36.5% (one third) of U.S. adults are obese. The percentage of children and adolescents ages 2-19 is about around 17%, representing a number of 12.7 million!
With the increase in the obesity levels among American adults, heart disease is on the rise. The CDC reports that heart disease is the cause of one out of every four deaths in America, claiming about 610,000 lives annually.
What is obesity?
According to the CDC, weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used as a screening tool for overweight or obesity.
BMI is a formula that takes into account your height and weight. BMI indicating a healthy weight is between 18.5-24.9. A BMI between 25-29.9 is considered overweight, with obesity starting at a BMI over 30.
Abdominal, or belly fat, is known to increase the risk of heart disease. Waist circumference is the width of your waist slightly above the naval area. For men, if your waist is more than 40 inches, the risk of heart disease increases significantly. For women, the risk increases if your waist size is more than 35 inches.
Obesity and heart disease
Also, obesity can increase your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Obesity can also reduce your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can increase your blood pressure level, and might induce diabetes, which in some cases can worsen your risk factor for heart disease. Obesity is also known to enlarge the left ventricle (called left ventricular hypertrophy), which increases the risk of heart failure.
How to Lose Weight and Avoid Heart Disease
Those about to undergo a significant weight reduction program should do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional to ensure that safe, medically sound steps are followed. Core to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, however, are healthy eating habits and an overall wellness-oriented lifestyle.
Here are the basic guidelines
Meal prep! Plan your meals ahead of time to avoid unhealthy fast food lunches and takeout dinners.
Cut down on sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages – High amounts of sugar increases your overall weight and – more specifically – belly fat. Also, read the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods for high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient, and avoid when possible.
Add soluble fiber to your diet – Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a type of gel in your gut, which slows sugar absorption into your bloodstream, which helps your body store less fat.
Include protein in your diet – A high-protein diet can help in weight loss. Standard protein requirements are at least 50 grams a day for women; about 60 grams per day for men. Again, get advice from a healthcare professional before starting a weight-loss program to confirm if a high-protein diet would be beneficial for your individual health concerns and target goals.
Cut down on alcohol – Alcoholic drinks contain many more calories than most people think. A 20-ounce serving of beer can pack 250 calories, a 6-ounce glass of wine contains 120, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor contains about 100. And that’s without any sugary mixers.
Pay attention to carbohydrates – You don’t need to start on a zero-carb diet (which is taking the other, also unhealthy, extreme), but switch from refined carbohydrates to unprocessed carbs. This will not just decrease your weight; it can also improve your metabolic health.
Increase physical activity – You can start slowly, increasing your workout time to at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, every week. Or, a high-intensity aerobic exercise like jogging for 75 minutes every week (or a combination of both), as well as muscle-strengthening exercises. Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Get enough sleep – Sound sleep is not just important for your overall good health, it is also essential for your weight loss goal. If you are not able to sleep properly, you tend to gain more weight. This is because people tend to eat more when they don’t get adequate sleep.
Managing stress efficiently – Stress is part of daily life, and you need to find ways to manage it well. You can opt for meditation, exercise, or hobbies to alleviate your stress. Also, some people tend to overeat when they are under stress. It is important that you manage your stress so that you keep your focus firmly on your weight loss goal.
If you are ready to change your life – and your health – for the better, our experienced physicians at Solutions Weight Loss are here to provide you with an individual, medically supervised plan to help you meet your goals. We also apply advanced weight loss treatments and protocols that are not available over the counter. We welcome you to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.