Connection between Obesity and High blood pressure

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Overweight and obesity are caused by a number of factors, including genetic, metabolic, psychological, sociocultural, and lifestyle (diet and exercise). Obesity is also a proven cause of hypertension. Nearly two-thirds of people who are obese are at risk of high blood pressure, as well as sleep apnea (which is also a risk factor for hypertension), coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure.

Although experts are not entirely certain how obesity causes hypertension, they have a number of important clues, including the relationship between obesity and neuroendocrine activities. Any number of these activities can have a detrimental effect on blood pressure. Specifically, obesity affects what is known as the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAA) system. The RAA system is responsible for several factors involved in hypertension, including blood volume, control of the sympathetic nervous system (which is involved in the body’s internal organ function), sodium (salt) levels, and the amount of water retained by the body. All of these factors have a significant role in blood pressure, and since obesity disrupts each of them, the result can be high blood pressure. In addition, the accumulation of fatty tissue can result in kidney dysfunction, which can lead to hypertension.

The relationship between obesity and hypertension goes even further, as obesity is also associated with metabolic syndrome, a condition that often ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes, which is also associated with hypertension. So as you can see, several different conditions are closely related to high blood pressure and working to resolve one can help resolve others.

It’s time for me to point out that losing weight is an important step toward managing high blood pressure and also for preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other related conditions. Help with weight loss is discussed in chapter 5 on lifestyle.

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