It’s no secret that being overweight comes with a long list of potential health problems. But it’s not enough to know that excess weight is a health threat. Dr. Michael Skardasis and our team at Optimal Performance Medicine want you to be fully educated on some of the most common complications of being overweight, especially those that impact your cardiovascular health.
Here’s what you should know about the link between your weight and high blood pressure.
Understanding high blood pressure
As its name suggests, blood pressure is the amount of pressure your blood puts on the walls of your arteries.
Why does measuring your blood pressure matter? We want to know your blood pressure because if it’s too high, a few things can happen:
- Your heart has to work too hard to pump blood
- The ventricles in your heart thicken
- Your arteries narrow
All of these changes in your cardiovascular system put you at risk for serious health problems, from aneurysm and stroke to heart disease and heart attack.
We measure your blood pressure in two numbers. The first number, called your systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second number, your diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.
Ideally, your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. The American Heart Association has four other blood pressure ranges:
- Elevated: 120-129/80 mmHg
- Hypertension stage 1: 130-139/80-89 mmHg
- Hypertension stage 2: over 140/90 mmHg
- Hypertensive crisis: 180/120 mmHg
Once your blood pressure reaches elevated status, we become concerned that high blood pressure is lurking around the corner.
There are two main types of high blood pressure based on what’s causing it. Primary hypertension tends to develop gradually over time and isn’t linked to a preexisting medical problem. Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, stems from an underlying health condition, such as a thyroid disorder or obstructive sleep apnea.
High blood pressure also has a wide range of risk factors, and most often your weight is at the top of the list.
The link between your weight and your blood pressure
Problems with your weight can affect your blood pressure in two ways. For instance, your weight can directly cause you to develop high blood pressure. One study found that obesity accounts for nearly 80% of high blood pressure cases. But being overweight can also exacerbate high blood pressure if you already have it.
This mainly happens because extra weight puts extra strain on your heart. The higher amounts of visceral fat (fat around your midsection) also increase the stress on your abdominal organs, which in turn stresses your cardiovascular system.
Warning signs your weight is a problem
The connection between your weight and your blood pressure is evident. What may not be as clear is when the number on your scale has crossed over into the danger zone.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the symptoms of obesity go far beyond having more body fat or seeing a larger number on the scale than others do. Some of the other common signs to pay attention to include difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, skin problems, and trouble sleeping.
You may also consider checking your body mass index (BMI), which is an estimate of body fat based on your height and weight.
Your next steps
If you find out that your weight is behind your high blood pressure, we have good news for you: It doesn’t take much to start seeing improvements in your blood pressure. Simply losing 10 pounds can go a long way in reducing the stress on your heart and arteries.
If the thought of starting your weight loss journey induces pain, we understand. Losing weight is a complicated process, and many people turn to one-size-fits-all diet and exercise programs that ultimately fail.
That’s not how we do things here at Optimal Performance Medicine. Dr. Skardasis takes into account your health history, treatment goals, lifestyle, and other factors and uses that information to create a customized weight loss plan.
Typically, those plans include lifestyle modifications, nutrition counseling, and exercise education. We take a multifaceted approach to weight loss to both ensure success and help you make genuine life change.
Ready to get started managing your blood pressure and becoming a healthier you? Don’t hesitate to request an appointment at our Woodstock, Georgia, office today.