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Weight Loss and Blood Pressure

Instructor: Tara Schickel

Tara has taught staff nursing courses and has a master's degree in public health.

This article will describe the connection between weight loss and blood pressure. It will describe how small changes can help lower blood pressure. It will also describe the role of physical activity in blood pressure reduction.

Weight Loss and Blood Pressure

Is there a connection between losing weight and lowering blood pressure? Science shows us that there is a connection between the two. This article will follow the story of Bill, a gentleman who weighs 350 pounds and has just come from an appointment with his primary care physician.

Bill's blood pressure at the doctor's office was 196/108. This is far above the normal parameters for blood pressure. Bill felt discouraged because he had gained six more pounds since his previous appointment. The doctor encouraged Bill to try to lose weight. He said it would reduce Bill's blood pressure. Bill wasn't sure weight loss would help his blood pressure come down, so he decided to go home and read about it.

Every Little Bit Counts!

Bill reads an article from the Mayo Clinic website about weight loss and blood pressure. According to the article, even as small as a five pound weight loss can begin to lower blood pressure. Bill is encouraged and excited by this. He knows if he makes slight improvements to his diet, he can easily lose five pounds. He will be on the way to making an improvement in his blood pressure. However, Bill will need to keep in mind the advice from the article that even if he does lower his blood pressure, he should never stop taking his blood pressure medication without guidance from his physician.

A Little Bit Counts---More Will Be Better

Bill is excited and encouraged to find out that a small amount of weight loss can lower his blood pressure. However, Bill should not stop at a five pound loss. Weight loss (specifically waist circumference loss) shows a dose-response association to a decrease in blood pressure (D'Onise, McDermott, & Campbell, 2013). This means that the more weight Bill loses (as long as he doesn't drop below a healthy weight), the better his blood pressure will become. A 10% weight loss has been shown to be associated with a blood pressure reduction of 11mmHg (D'Onise, McDermott, & Campbell, 2013). This means for Bill, if he loses 35 pounds, he may be able to decrease his blood pressure by 11 points.

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