Too much body fat is associated with dozens of increased health risks, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. High blood pressure is on the list, too, and it’s particularly insidious because you can have it for years or even decades with no awareness of it.
Hypertension doesn’t typically cause symptoms, and it can silently cause significant damage to your heart, kidneys, brain and blood vessels.
Top-ranked physician and cardiologist Jeffrey H. Graf, MD, encourages patients to regularly visit his office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York, to check in on their blood pressure. He takes a blood pressure reading during every visit, and Dr. Graf can review your risk factors for hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions to ensure you’re as healthy as you can be.
While you may have some understanding of how blood pressure gets higher and which behaviors or medical conditions increase it, you might not fully realize why excess weight is such a pressing risk factor for hypertension. Here, we explore the association between a high body fat percentage and elevated blood pressure.
Changes that happen in your body when you gain weight
A little body fat is necessary for everyone. It does serve important purposes: It helps you store energy and insulates your vital organs.
When you get into the territory of being overweight or obese due to body fat, however, the excess fat can cause more problems than it resolves. One of them is hypertension.
Recent research suggests that up to 78% of all cases of primary high blood pressure, meaning hypertension that doesn’t result from some other underlying health condition, are due to obesity. And there are multiple reasons why that’s the case. These include hormone changes, insulin resistance, and the overactivation of your nervous system, which can all have domino effects on your blood pressure even if they don’t affect it directly.
Your body must make some internal adjustments to accommodate excess body fat, which aren’t always ideal for your cardiovascular health, particularly your blood pressure. If you already had high blood pressure before gaining weight, excess body fat can make the condition worse.
Getting rid of extra fluid
One cause of high blood pressure is extra fluid in your blood, which may be there due to the impact obesity has on your kidney function. Your kidneys share the responsibility of filtering extra fluid and waste from your blood before ejecting them through the urinary system.
Visceral fat around your kidneys can compress the organs, making them work overtime to rid your blood of extra fluid volume. As a result, the force of this extra blood against the walls of your body’s blood vessels increases and your heart must work harder to pump your blood.
What you can do to reduce your blood pressure
High blood pressure, especially when it’s prolonged, can have detrimental effects on your cardiovascular system. This can ultimately lead to dire complications like heart attack, heart failure, decreased kidney function and stroke. Losing weight is an important way to help reduce blood pressure.
If you find out your blood pressure is high during a routine visit, Dr. Graf can discuss an individualized, supervised weight management program to mitigate your health risks and lower your blood pressure.
There are so many advantages to maintaining a healthy weight, including getting your high blood pressure under control. Schedule a consultation by calling our office at 607-289-3638 to improve your blood pressure and your overall health.