High blood pressure – the insidious danger

Obese people suffer more often from high blood pressure than normal-weight. The IFB informs about reasons and causes.

High blood pressure is a widespread disease. Every second adult in Germany has an elevated blood pressure. It has long been known that heavy overweight (adiposity) increases the risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases firmly. Scientists assume that 30 to 60 percent of the high blood pressure ailments trace back to heavy overweight. Obese people suffer therefore three times more often from high blood pressure than normal-weight persons. Doctors speak of primary high blood pressure when it’s not caused by a current disease. Then genetic causes can be assumed.

Reasons for high blood pressure (hypertonia) in obesity

On the one hand the burden for the heart and the bloodstream in obesity is increased, because a larger body mass has to be provided. On the other hand especially the abdominal fatty tissue intensifies inflammatory processes in the body. These processes lead to a premature hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). The vessels thereby lose their elasticity and form deposits on the vessel wall, which in turn heightens the blood pressure. Moreover, a lot of overweight patients have increased blood fats (triglyceride, LDL-cholesterol), which additionally burdens the vessel walls and promotes the atherosclerosis. A vessel constriction finally leads to circulatory disorders and harms internal organs, especially heart and kidneys.

In people with a high Body-Mass-Index often the metabolism is impaired. They produce too much of the blood sugar reducing hormone insulin. A reason for that is mostly the insufficient reaction of the body cells to this hormone. Subsequently the body is releasing it excessively. One effect of insulin among others is to promote the decomposition of a certain protein (ANP, atrial natriuretic peptide). ANP regulates the blood pressure in the human body. In obese man and women often exists a reduced ANP-level so that the blood pressure is increasing.

At the Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases, the obesity experts therefore explore and treat not only heavy overweight but also its accompanying diseases. So diabetes and high blood pressure are also treated at the adiposity outpatient clinic. If the patient is able to lose weight, this also alleviates diabetes and high blood pressure. Prof. Mathias Fasshauer from the IFB examines a particular case of high blood pressure: hypertension during pregnancy (preeclampsia) and its possible causes in adipose tissue of the concerned women.

Further factors exacerbate hypertension

Already known is the fact that smoking negatively affects blood pressure, because it affects the blood vessels and promotes arteriosclerosis. Also stress and psychic strain are under suspicion to increase blood pressure as well as excessive drinking of alcohol and too salty foods. A type-2-diabetes can additionally aggravate arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure.

Excessive blood pressure is noticeable through afflictions like dizziness, ear noises, heart complaints, vision disorders, breathlessness, attacks of sweating and clouded awareness. These health problems disappear when blood pressure normalizes. An untreated, permanent hypertension can cause heavy health damages. High blood pressure patients have a twice to quadruple increased risk for a stroke, heart attack, heart failure and arteriosclerosis.

High blood pressure is deemed to be a treacherous suffering, because it initially no afflictions and can be undetected for a along time. Therefore, blood pressure should be controlled regularly and an antihypertensive therapy should start early.

Blood pressure is measured

in millimetre of mercury (mmHg)

Upper / systolic values Bottom / diastolic values
Optimal blood pressure under 120 under 80
Normal blood pressure over 130 under 85
High blood pressure from 140 from 90

Attention! Blood pressure cuffs which are too small for obese Patients can lead to wrong values.

Doris Gabel

Keywords: associated diseases