High blood pressure closely related to body weight

Being heavy goes hand-in-hand with having high blood pressure, especially for women, according to researchers.

Dr. Yehonatan Sharabi, of the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues examined data from the Young Adult Periodic Examination in Israel database of healthy young people, ages 25 to 45 years. A total of 38,558 subjects underwent periodic examinations between 1991 and 1999.

The team assessed the relationship between blood pressure and weight, taking into account age, sex, physical activity, and cigarette smoking.

As reported in the American Journal of Hypertension, they found that as body mass index (BMI) increased, so did blood pressure - in both men and women.

The odds ratio for having clinical hypertension increased by 16 percent for each additional unit of BMI. Also, each year increase in age raised the odds by 6 percent.

“The relative propensity of men toward hypertension, typical of this age group, was less pronounced at higher BMI values,” Sharabi’s team reports.

On the other hand, the investigator told Reuters Health, “Young obese women loose their gender-related protective advantage in terms of the prevalence of hypertension.”

People “should be aware that the deleterious effects of obesity come early on,” Sharabi cautioned, and young women should be particularly aware that they are at risk for hypertension if they are overweight.

SOURCE: American Journal of Hypertension, May 2004.

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Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.