April 15, 2024

Obesity is on the rise both in the US and globally, where it increases the risk of developing medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and hypertension (high blood pressure).

With more than 40% of American adults being classified as obese, the condition is now regarded as an epidemic with serious health repercussions.

Obesity is one of the main risk factors for sickness and death because it is linked to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a proven risk factor for heart attacks as well as strokes.

The initial step to reducing your risk and safeguarding your health is to comprehend obesity and hypertension and how they are related.


Hypertension 

The medical word for elevated blood pressure is hypertension. The amount of pressure that the blood applies to the artery walls is known as blood pressure.

While a small rise and fall in blood pressure is typical throughout the day, high blood pressure occurs when it remains raised for an extended period of time.

Systolic and diastolic pressures are used to calculate blood pressure. Diastolic pressure is the arterial blood pressure measured between beats when the heart relaxes to refill with blood.

Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure that builds up in the arteries while the heart contracts. Blood pressure should be 120/80 mm Hg.


Obesity 

Obesity is typically defined as an increase in the number or size of fat cells in the body. It may be brought on by:

Obesity raises your risk of developing a number of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. It’s important to remember that weight discrimination has negative health impacts as well.

  • How much and what kind of meals you consume 
  • The amount of exercise you get 
  • Your family history
  • Genetics
  • Quantity and quality of your sleep

There is a substantial link between fat and high blood pressure. According to studies, about 15% of Americans of normal weight have hypertension, compared to 25% of those who are overweight and 40% of those who are obese.

Another study by the National Institute of Health shows that, obesity accounts for 78% of the risk of males and 65% of the risk of women getting high blood pressure.

According to estimations, obesity is thought to be a factor in at least 75% of high blood pressure cases.

Obesity can make treating hypertension more challenging due to various associated medical issues.

The following are some of the methods by which obesity develops or aggravates hypertension:

  • Altered hormone signaling 
  • Altered sympathetic nervous system activity. This is a component of the autonomic nervous system in control of the fight-or-flight response, 
  • Altered kidney anatomy and function

How Does Obesity Lead To High Blood Pressure? 

The precise nature of the connection between obesity and high blood pressure is complex and depends on a number of variables.

The following are some ways that obesity might result in hypertension:

Sympathetic Neurological System 

Consuming a high-calorie diet, especially one high in fat and carbohydrates, activates nervous system receptors that increase sympathetic nerve activity (your involuntary responses).

Moreover, increased belly and trunk fat makes the sympathetic nervous system more active. This causes the blood vessels to tighten, which raises blood pressure.

Loosed Fatty Acids 

More free fatty acids are present in obese people, which makes blood vessels more susceptible to increased blood pressure.

Leptin

Known as a satiety hormone, leptin. It controls your energy levels, alerts you when you’re hungry or full, and activates your sympathetic nervous system.

Leptin is released into the bloodstream in greater quantities when there is more fat tissue in the body. As a result, the blood vessels’ capacity to widen is reduced, raising blood pressure.

Fatty Tissues 

The amount of glucocorticoids, a class of steroids, functioning in your body increases when you have a large amount of adipose tissue (body fat).

As a result, the hormone system that controls blood pressure, the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, becomes more active, raising blood pressure.

Insulin sensitivity

Obesity induces a long-lasting state of systemic inflammation and insulin resistance that prevents the correct function of the arterial walls. The arteries become thin as a result.

Obese individuals frequently have insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, which increases sympathetic nervous system activation and raises blood pressure.

A lot of insulin is produced into the bloodstream to make up for the body being less sensitive or resistant to insulin.

Due to the body’s continued inability to utilize that insulin, obese individuals experience hyperinsulinemia, which raises their blood pressure.

Elevated insulin levels make it harder for the kidneys to reabsorb salt, which causes the body to retain more sodium and water, raising blood pressure.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

Obesity increases the possibility of developing obstructive sleep apnea, which activates the sympathetic nervous system and causes high blood pressure.


Hypertension Treatment In Obese People

It is extremely likely that you can control your weight and blood pressure while also reversing or reducing these physical changes.

Most Doctors’ primary course of treatment for both illnesses is weight loss. They frequently suggest food and lifestyle modifications, occasionally in conjunction with bariatric or weight loss surgery.

Typically, medical professionals mix weight loss (with or without surgery) with other treatments, such as drugs.

Doctors advise making significant lifestyle changes to maintain your weight because drugs can have side effects. Regular medical exams are also very essential.

Some of the ways to treat hypertension are explained below:

Medications

Many drugs can be prescribed by doctors to treat hypertension brought on by obesity. In the event that one drug doesn’t work, doctors may substitute another.

Antihypertensive drugs are divided into nine types based on how they affect your body. On a case-by-case basis, doctors might also think about prescribing weight loss drugs. Some drugs work better than others for obese patients. 

Changes In Lifestyle 

A moderate weight can be established and maintained with significant lifestyle adjustments. Lean mass must be maintained while fat mass is decreased.

These life changes include:

  • Consuming a balanced, low-calorie diet and avoiding coffee
  • Getting active by frequently engaging in an activity you enjoy
  • Obtaining a good night’s sleep, and abstaining from overindulging in alcohol
  • Avoiding secondhand smoke and stopping smoking if you already smoke
  • Keeping an eye on blood pressure at home while receiving assistance from family and friends

Diet Modifications 

Physicians may suggest a low-calorie diet to patients with obesity and hypertension. This varies from 500 to 1,500 calories per day for men and from 500 to 1,200 calories per day for women, according to data from 2016. They ought to: 

  • Eat less salt, both added salt and salt found in many processed foods. 
  • Reduce your consumption of cholesterol and saturated fats.
  • Drink more water and consume more fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meats, and whole grains.

Weight Loss Surgery

In the event that alternative lifestyle changes to lose weight have failed and you are at danger of developing major health issues, such as hypertension, your doctor may advise weight-loss (bariatric) surgery.

There are other weight-loss procedures, such as gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, but they all entail altering the stomach and small intestines to reduce how much food you eat.

If you are thinking about having weight-loss surgery, talk to your doctor and carefully evaluate and discuss all your alternatives. There are numerous potential risks with this kind of surgery, and not everyone is a candidate.

Also, it is highly important to remember that weight-loss surgery isn’t a panacea for losing weight; instead, it can help you lose weight temporarily before you risk putting it back on again if you don’t lead a healthy lifestyle both before and after the procedure.


Conclusion 

In the United States, individuals are becoming more and more obese, and hypertensive. Many factors contribute to obesity’s ability to worsen high blood pressure, and doctors typically treat both disorders concurrently.

It is  very possible to control both conditions. Doctors advise that people maintain a healthy BMI for their age and gender in order to recover from obesity and related illnesses.

Making important lifestyle adjustments is the first step in treating obesity and hypertension. In addition to these, there may be successful drugs and, as a last resort, surgery.

Doctors and researchers advise focusing on education and weight management for kids.

Regular exams and medical treatment are also very crucial.

To enjoy a long healthy life, there is need to maintain a healthy weight and control your blood pressure.


References 

Edwards, J. M. (2022, April 28). Obesity-induced hypertension: Causes, risks, and treatment. Healthline. Retrieved February 18, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/obesity-and-hypertension#in-children 

Sherrell, Zia. “Weight Discrimination: Definition, Prevalence, and More.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 29 Sept. 2021, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/weight-discrimination

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