Skip to main content

Will Losing Weight Lower Blood Pressure?

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 28, 2024

According to a 2020 review, obesity is responsible for a significant portion of primary hypertension cases, ranging from 65% to 78%. This hypertension caused by excess weight strains the heart and blood vessels, often leading to severe complications like heart disease and stroke if left untreated.

Losing weight offers a promising way to lower blood pressure in those with obesity-related hypertension. But how exactly does weight loss affect blood pressure? Will the numbers go down if the pounds come off?

In this article, you will learn what blood pressure is, how weight loss affects blood pressure, and its prevention.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Obesity can lead to hypertension or worsen existing high blood pressure, which can cause severe complications like heart disease and stroke if left untreated. Losing weight offers a promising way to lower blood pressure in those with obesity-related hypertension.
  • Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls during circulation in your body. It is an essential physiological parameter that indicates how effectively your heart pumps blood and how well your arteries can carry that blood throughout your body.
  • Blood pressure levels are typically classified into several categories to assess a person's cardiovascular health. The classification is based on two key measurements: systolic and diastolic pressure, measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
  • The DASH diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Meta-analyses have shown that weight loss can significantly reduce blood pressure in overweight and obese individuals, with an average reduction of 1 mm Hg in blood pressure for every 1 kg of weight loss.
  • To prevent high blood pressure, it is recommended to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, limit alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and manage stress levels.
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls during circulation in your body. It is an essential physiological parameter that indicates how effectively your heart pumps blood and how well your arteries can carry that blood throughout your body.

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) using two values:

  • Systolic Pressure: The higher of the two numbers represents the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats and pumps blood into the arteries. It is the peak pressure during a cardiac cycle.
  • Diastolic Pressure: This figure, specifically the lower of the two values, provides insight into the pressure within your arteries during the resting phase between each heartbeat. It is the minimum pressure during a cardiac cycle.

Classification Of Blood Pressure Levels

Blood pressure levels are typically classified into several categories to assess a person's cardiovascular health. The classification is based on two key measurements: systolic and diastolic pressure, measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Now, what are the commonly accepted classifications for blood pressure levels in adults? Let’s explore them below.

1. Normal

Blood pressure is a range of values considered healthy and indicative of good cardiovascular health in adults.

It's usually described as a systolic pressure (the higher number) below 120 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure (the lower number) below 80 mm Hg, both measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

In simpler terms, this means that:

  • Systolic Pressure: Less than 120 mm Hg
  • Diastolic Pressure: Less than 80 mm Hg

2. Elevated

Elevated pressure means your blood pressure is higher than normal but not high enough for hypertension. This classification identifies those at risk of future hypertension or needing lifestyle changes for prevention.

Elevated blood pressure readings are defined as the following:

  • Systolic Pressure: 120-129 mm Hg
  • Diastolic Pressure: Less than 80 mm Hg

3. Hypertension Stage 1

Hypertension stage 1, also known as stage 1 high blood pressure, is a classification of elevated blood pressure that indicates a higher risk of cardiovascular health problems.

It is the first stage of hypertension and typically requires lifestyle modifications and, in some cases, medication to manage.

The following blood pressure readings define hypertension stage 1:

  • Systolic Pressure: 130-139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)
  • Diastolic Pressure: 80-89 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)

4. Hypertension Stage 2

Hypertension Stage 2, also known as stage 2 high blood pressure, is a more advanced and severe form of hypertension (high blood pressure) than stage 1.

It indicates significantly elevated blood pressure levels that require prompt and often more aggressive treatment to reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular complications.

The following blood pressure readings define Hypertension Stage 2:

  • Systolic Pressure: 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher
  • Diastolic Pressure: 90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher

5. Hypertensive Crisis

A hypertensive crisis refers to a situation where blood pressure rises quickly and severely, reaching readings of 180/120 mm Hg or greater. This condition is considered a medical emergency due to the potentially severe consequences of uncontrolled high blood pressure in this range.

There are two types of hypertensive crises:

1. Hypertensive Urgency

Blood pressure is 180/120 or greater. If the second reading remains high and there are no associated symptoms of target organ damage (such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or difficulty speaking), it is considered hypertensive urgency. Medical intervention may involve adjusting or adding medications, but hospitalization is rarely required.

2. Hypertensive Emergency

The blood pressure reading is 180/120 or greater. Associated symptoms of target organ damage, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, or difficulty speaking, are present. This is considered a hypertensive emergency, and immediate medical attention is required. Emergency services, such as calling 911, are recommended without waiting to see if the blood pressure comes down on its own.

👍 Recommendation

Magnesium is a vital mineral that regulates blood pressure, strengthens bones, and supports the immune system. Explore our best Magnesium Supplements for Blood Pressure, backed by research and customer reviews, ensuring their reliability and effectiveness.

What Is The Link Between Weight And Blood Pressure?

Body weight, particularly excess fat, can directly impact blood pressure levels. The connection between weight and blood pressure is intricate but can be summarized as follows:

  • Obesity and Hypertension: Obesity, particularly abdominal fat, significantly increases the risk of hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure. As weight rises, the heart must work harder to circulate blood through the additional fat, resulting in higher blood pressure.
  • Increased Blood Volume: Excess body fat expands blood volume, stressing the heart and blood vessels, causing higher blood pressure.
  • Insulin Resistance: Obesity is linked to insulin resistance, impairing blood vessel tone and sodium balance and raising blood pressure.
  • Inflammation: Obesity often leads to insulin resistance, disrupting blood vessel tone and sodium balance and raising blood pressure.
  • Hormonal Changes: Obesity often causes insulin resistance, disrupting blood vessel tone and sodium balance, leading to higher blood pressure.
  • Sleep Apnea: Obesity increases the likelihood of developing sleep apnea, where breathing ceases during sleep, leading to elevated blood pressure and aggravated hypertension.

How Does Weight Loss Affect Blood Pressure?

Losing weight can have a positive impact on blood pressure. When you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to high blood pressure. However, losing weight can reduce the workload on your heart, leading to a decrease in blood pressure.

In fact, a study of 181 overweight hypertensive patients found that a 10% weight loss led to an average 4.3/3.8 mmHg decrease in blood pressure over four years. So, losing weight can be a helpful step if you want to lower your blood pressure. Here's how weight loss affects blood pressure:

  • Reduction in Blood Volume: Extra body fat needs more blood for oxygen and nutrients. When you lose weight, especially fat, your blood volume decreases, reducing pressure on blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved Blood Vessel Function: Extra body fat needs more blood for nourishment. Losing weight, especially fat, reduces overall blood volume, easing pressure on blood vessel walls and lowering blood pressure.
  • Decreased Insulin Resistance: Obesity is linked to insulin resistance, where cells don't respond well to insulin, causing more insulin in the bloodstream. Losing weight can enhance insulin sensitivity, reducing resistance and improving blood pressure.
  • Reduction in Inflammatory Markers: Extra body fat can cause ongoing inflammation, harming blood vessels and blood pressure control. Losing weight can lower inflammation markers, improving vascular health.
  • Decreased Sympathetic Nervous System Activity: Obesity can heighten the sympathetic nervous system, raising blood pressure. Weight loss can decrease this activity and lower blood pressure.
  • Enhanced Heart Function: Obesity makes the heart work harder. Shedding excess weight eases this strain, improving heart function and lowering blood pressure.
  • Improved Sleep Quality: Losing weight can help with sleep apnea, often seen in obese individuals. Sleep apnea is tied to high blood pressure, and managing it can lead to lower blood pressure.

Will Losing Weight Lower Blood Pressure?

Yes, losing weight by combining a healthy diet and exercise is proven to lower blood pressure. Several studies have illustrated a significant link between weight loss and high blood pressure.

Here are a few key points and studies that support this connection:

1. The Framingham Heart Study

A follow-up study conducted over 26 years on participants of the Framingham Heart Study highlights the link between carrying extra body weight and an increased risk of developing hypertension. The study also reveals that weight loss can help in reducing blood pressure. The study has been updated to reflect the ongoing correlation between body weight and blood pressure.

2. DASH Diet Trials

The DASH diet Trials are a frequently prescribed approach for individuals with high blood pressure. Studies show that the DASH diet can substantially decrease blood pressure levels when combined with weight loss.

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that 459 adult participants who both shed weight and adhered to the DASH diet witnessed a substantial decrease in their blood pressure levels.

How To Prevent High Blood Pressure?

Preventing high blood pressure is essential for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health complications. One can take several measures to keep their blood pressure in check. These include:

  • Adopting a Nourishing Diet: Embrace a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Reduce your salt (sodium) intake, processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-fat foods.
  • Reducing Sodium Intake: Restrict your daily sodium consumption to below 2,300 milligrams (equivalent to approximately a teaspoon of salt). Reducing salt in your diet can help lower blood pressure.
  • Exercise Regularly: Incorporate 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly for a healthier heart and blood pressure.
  • Limiting Caffeine Intake: While some studies suggest that caffeine can temporarily raise blood pressure, its long-term effects must be clarified. If you're sensitive to caffeine, consider reducing your intake.
  • Staying Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can temporarily raise blood pressure.
  • Taking Medications as Prescribe: If your healthcare provider has prescribed blood pressure medication, follow the instructions and keep up with regular check-up appointments.

👍 Recommendation

Many individuals use home blood pressure monitors to track their blood pressure conveniently. Our extensive research and testing led us to the top 3 home blood pressure monitors. These devices offer accurate readings at home, eliminating the need for doctor's visits.

Wrap-Up

Losing weight lowers blood pressure by reducing the volume of blood needed to circulate through the body and lowering sympathetic nervous system activity. While medications can provide temporary relief, they do not address the underlying problem.

Therefore, embracing sustainable weight loss improves overall well-being and helps manage and prevent the complications associated with high blood pressure, offering a path to a healthier, heart-protective lifestyle.

FAQs on Weight Loss and Blood Pressure

Will high blood pressure go away if I lose weight?

Losing weight can often lead to a significant reduction in high blood pressure, but it may not completely go away for everyone, and individual results can vary.

How can I use a blood pressure chart to monitor my weight loss progress?

To monitor your weight loss progress with a blood pressure chart, regularly measure your blood pressure and record the readings. As you lose weight, you should observe improvements in your blood pressure levels, which can motivate your weight loss journey.

Can low blood pressure be associated with weight loss?

Yes, low blood pressure and weight loss can be related. Significant weight loss may lead to a drop in blood pressure, which could be concerning if it becomes too low. It's essential to monitor your blood pressure and consult a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of low blood pressure during weight loss.

Can weight loss alone replace blood pressure medication?

Losing weight can help lower blood pressure, but it should not replace medication. Consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication. It's best to manage weight loss and medication together with professional guidance.

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Virtual weight loss solution
A personalized GLP-1 medication program delivered to you via our partner Korb Health
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Free consultation; program starts at $269/mo
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Customized online program and wellness coaching
  • Prescription medications and supplies shipped to your door