Healthy Weight Could Prevent Hypertension

Maintaining a healthy weight may be an important factor in preventing high blood pressure.

Obesity can play a significant role in the development of numerous conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Therefore, it is advised that individuals maintain a healthy weight and have an active lifestyle into aging.

Maintaining a healthy weight may have a larger, positive impact on blood pressure compared with 4 other factors, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, American Society of Hypertension Joint Scientific Sessions 2017.

“Increasing blood pressure at younger ages is associated with earlier onset of heart disease and stroke, and US high blood pressure treatment guidelines support maintaining healthy behaviors across the lifespan to limit rises in blood pressure as we age,” said researcher John N. Booth III, PhD. “We looked specifically at the long-term impact of maintaining healthy behaviors on changes in blood pressure between early and middle-age adulthood.”

Included in the study were 4630 patients who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Patients were aged 18 to 30 years at baseline and were followed for 25 years. The authors measured blood pressure and health behaviors of each patient.

The authors examined the health impact of: a healthy weight, absence of smoking, up to 7 alcoholic drinks per week for women and up to 14 drinks for men, at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week, and healthy eating.

The authors discovered that patients with a healthy weight were more likely to have normal blood pressure during middle-life, according to the study. These patients were 41% less likely to develop hypertension.

Physical activity and diet were not observed to affect blood pressure over the course of the study.

The authors also found that not smoking and no or moderate drinking were linked to a smaller increase in blood pressure; however, additional research is needed to confirm these findings, according to the study.

Notably, patients who practiced 4 or more of the behaviors were 27% more likely to have normal blood pressure through middle-age, according to the authors.

The investigators conclude that body weight may be important in maintaining normal blood pressure during aging.

While the findings highlight the importance of healthy body weight, the authors also stress that the other behaviors are vital to prevent heart disease and stroke, according to the study.

“This data suggests that body weight is very important in terms of maintaining a normal blood pressure from early and into middle adulthood,” Dr Booth said. “These results provide evidence that what we may want to do is focus on how we can create interventions that will enable individuals to maintain a normal body weight throughout their lifetimes. The other behaviors we studied may play an important role since they can influence body weight.”