If you are overweight, you are likely dealing with a host of health problems. One of the biggest of these problems, however, is high blood pressure caused by your increased weight.
You may not even be consciously thinking about your blood pressure, but the added weight is putting a strain on your body every day — and that includes your blood vessels.
While it may be difficult to make changes in your life that can lead to losing weight and reducing your risk of high blood pressure, the effort will be well worth it. At Premier Family Physicians, Dr. Pompeyo Chavez and his team see this link in patients quite frequently.
Here’s why they think it’s so important to make a change.
What is the link between obesity and high blood pressure?
According to a long-running research project called The Framingham Heart Study, 78% of hypertension (high blood pressure) cases in men and 65% of cases in women can be attributed directly to obesity. Obesity simply means you have too much body fat, as measured by the Body Mass Index, or BMI.
When you’re overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your arteries. The extra effort strains your arteries, which resist the flow of blood, causing your blood pressure to increase.
When your blood pressure is too high, it also damages tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, which make it more difficult for your kidneys to filter your blood, removing waste and fluids. When fluid builds up in your body, your heart has to work even harder, and your risk of heart disease increases.
How can you lower your blood pressure?
While certain medications can work to reduce your blood pressure, if you’re overweight, the number one thing you can do to lower your blood pressure and decrease the strain on your heart is to lose weight. Don’t be discouraged by thinking you have to lose a significant amount of weight to see any benefit. The American Heart Association points out that even losing just a few pounds can have a positive effect on your health.
A couple of quick notes on how to lose weight: increasing your amount of physical activity is a game-changer, so start exercising as soon as you can. A couple of hours of moderately intense exercise a week can work wonders.
The second change is to eat a healthy diet. If you’re specifically trying to lower your blood pressure, you should aim especially to reduce your salt intake. Salt tends to keep extra fluid in your body, causing your heart to work even harder. Check food labels for sodium levels — you might be surprised at how much salt is in your food. Look for low sodium alternatives, and even switch out salt for other spices that can still give your food flavor.
If you need some guidance in your battle to lose weight and lower your blood pressure, the team at Premier Family Physicians loves to help patients improve their health and reduce their risk of heart disease. Just call the office or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment, and you’ll be on your way to better health.