Australian guidelines state that hypertension is defined as a blood pressure of greater than 140/90mmHg. Hypertension rarely presents with symptoms; it’s often diagnosed as part of a routine blood pressure check.

Hypertension is very closely related to obesity. Studies show that 78% of new cases of essential hypertension in men and 65% of new cases in women were attributable to excess body fat. Essential hypertension is defined as an abnormally high blood pressure that is not a result of a medical condition, it is also known as primary hypertension. So why do we care about hypertension? What does it mean for the body?

Hypertension is one of the most significant risk factors for:
* Stroke
* Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
* Heart failure
* Kidney failure
* Peripheral vascular disease
* Atrial fibrillation

The mechanisms behind how obesity causes hypertension are complex and involve direct and indirect interactions of adipose (fat) on the heart and blood vessels and on kidney, metabolic and neuroendocrine (brain and hormonal) pathways. Hypertension is often treated with medications to lower the blood pressure, however, lifestyle changes alone (weight loss, exercise, dietary changes) accounts for up to 15% reduction of cardiovascular events, eg/ heart attack and stroke. Weight loss can reduce systolic blood pressure by 5-20mmHg. This means that if you have mild hypertension and obesity, you may be able to reverse the condition with weight loss alone.

By losing just 5-10% of total body weight you can significantly reduce your risk of developing hypertension. If you already have high blood pressure you can successfully reduce your blood pressure through weight loss, in turn this will significantly reduce your risk of health complications related to hypertension.

If you have obesity and hypertension please speak to your GP or MedSurg Weight Loss doctor for more information on how you may be able to lose a small amount of weight to improve your blood pressure and cardiovascular health.