Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart beats. If this pressure remains consistently high, this can cause a number of health issues. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
People who have hypertension often experience few or no symptoms, but over time, their bodies may still suffer harmful effects, including heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.
Hypertension is a serious condition that may lead to a number of other health problems, such as:
- Heart disease
- Eye disease
- Heart failure
- Kidney failure
Blood Pressure Measurements
Measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg, your blood pressure measurement contains two numbers that reflect your systolic pressure and your diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure describes your blood pressure when your heart beats and diastolic pressure refers to your blood pressure while your heart rests between beats. Your systolic measurement appears above your diastolic measurement, such as 120/80 mmHg, which describes normal blood pressure levels.
The normal range for blood pressure is under 120 systolic and under 80 diastolic pressures.
Someone with Stage 1 hypertension will have a systolic pressure between 140-159 or a diastolic pressure between 90-99. Stage 2 hypertension is described by a systolic pressure over 160 or a diastolic pressure over 100.
Causes of Hypertension
While the exact causes of high blood pressure are unclear, certain factors seem to contribute to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. These include:
- Older age
- Poor diet
- Minimal exercise
Since obesity is one of the leading causes of hypertension, weight loss is often an effective treatment for hypertension. Other lifestyle changes may help reduce high blood pressure. In particular, the following changes may help:
- Quitting smoking
- Getting regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day
- Changing to a low-fat, low salt diet, complete with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol
If lifestyle changes do not help improve blood pressure, medications may be needed to help normalize blood pressure levels. Medications for high blood pressure may include:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Since high blood pressure may not produce symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor regularly for check-ups. If high blood pressure is discovered, losing weight and making diet and exercise changes may be prudent first steps in helping to lower blood pressure.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition that prevents the body from properly processing blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is highly associated with excess weight and afflicts many obese people, putting them at risk of disabling symptoms and complications.
Because type 2 diabetes and its precursors are closely tied to obesity, weight loss is often all that is needed to improve or resolve them. Even a moderate amount of weight loss can help many people reduce diabetes medications and even put the disease into remission.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that occurs when the airway is temporarily obstructed during sleep, causing disruptions in breathing. These interruptions can last a few seconds at a time or more than a minute, and may occur between 5-30 times over the course of an hour. Breathing often resumes with loud snoring choking or gasping sound, which can further interrupt sleep.
Obesity and Joint Pain
Obesity is among the leading causes of immobility in adults. An accumulation of excess body weight increases pressure on the joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Over time, excess weight can cause cartilage in these joints to wear down, and this may lead to severe pain and difficulty walking.
Arthritis is a chronic condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It can develop at any joint in the body, including the ankles and knees, the hips, the wrists or elbows. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.
In small quantities, fat is useful to our health. Unfortunately, we often eat more fat than necessary for benefits like nutrient absorption and joint protection. Our bodies do what they can to push excess fat into storage, leading to weight gain, but often the excess fat will also build-up in the blood stream.
This may lead to unhealthy blood levels of fats or lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides . When this occurs, the condition is known as hyperlipidemia.
Understanding Metabolic Syndrome
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for a series of health problems. One common obesity-related condition is metabolic syndrome.
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a collection of medical conditions that commonly develop in association with obesity. There are five primary risk factors considered in metabolic syndrome. If at least three of them occur together, the condition is diagnosed.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a chronic condition resulting in the contents of the stomach flowing back up and irritating the esophagus. Normally, a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) would prevent anything from returning up through the esophagus, but due to factors such as obesity, pregnancy or smoking, the LES may become weakened and unable to properly block the stomach’s content.ay.
Obesity and Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States. Every year, about 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. That is one death every minute related to heart disease. If you are overweight or obese, you are at higher risk of developing heart disease. Losing weight is one of the more effective ways of reducing that risk.
Joint Pain and Obesity
Obesity and excessive weight can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on your body. Carrying extra weight makes it more difficult to move around and accelerates the wear on your joints and your spine. Extra weight makes it difficult to perform simple tasks that rely on your joints for movement such as squatting, running or climbing stairs. It can also lead to joint disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.