Obesity and hypertension—two epidemics or one?

Posted November 21, 2008 by Acupuncture & Massage College & filed under Health & Fitness, Uncategorized

Obesity is weighing heavily on America. Government and private sector health experts now estimate that 65 percent of America’s adults are overweight and 31 percent of adults are obese and at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. The link between obesity and hypertension is well known, but the exact nature of the association between the two disorders remains unclear.

With the significant rise in obesity in this last decade comes a corresponding increase in the occurrence of hypertension.  Almost 29 percent of the population is hypertensive (having a blood pressure (BP) greater than 140/90 or using hypertensive medications.)

The strength of the association of obesity with hypertension varies among different racial and ethnic groups. Generally, risk estimates suggest that approximately 75 and 65 percent of the cases of hypertension in men and women, respectively, are directly attributable to an overweight condition and obesity.

Obesity hypertension is considered to be the most common form of hypertension due to unknown reasons. Many studies suggest that abdominal fat or “beer gut” is more closely associated with high blood pressure than overall obesity.  Obese individuals with elevated intra-abdominal fat demonstrate a clustering of coronary heart disease risk factors (the Metabolic Syndrome.)

Not all obese individuals are hypertensive, although weight gain is almost always associated with an increased BP.  The increase in BP is closely related to the magnitude of weight gain, and even moderate weight gain is associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension. Weight loss is almost always associated with a reduction in BP in obese individuals. Any elevation in BP above optimal levels (120/80) will increase an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Abdominal obesity is associated with altered blood circulation adjustments to weight gain. Individuals with an excess accumulation of abdominal fat demonstrate lower levels of cardiac output compared with individuals with lower body fat percentages. Elevated blood pressure due to obesity can cause long-term damage to the body’s vital organs and functions. Two of the most common causes of chronic renal (kidney) failure, diabetes and hypertension, are closely associated with obesity

Obesity and hypertension can be treated naturally, using a non-pharmacological approach. Natural and safe methods of treatment include:  Weight loss (which lowers BP in obese individuals who have developed hypertension), regular physical activity (incidence of hypertension is highest in obese sedentary individuals and lowest in lean physically active individuals) and sodium restriction (which reduces BP in obese individuals.)

For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500.

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