04182022 Hypertension and Weight Loss Management

Hypertension is defined as having a systolic blood pressure of ≥ 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic blood pressure of ≥ 90mmHg measured in each arm on two (2) or more different days. It has been recognized as an increasing global health concern, wherein in developing countries such as the Philippines is heavily affected.  In 2021, the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) noted the “progressive rise” equivalent to 37% prevalence rate of high blood pressure among the Filipinos, the highest record since 1992.

The identified modifiable risk factors of hypertension include unhealthy diets, such as low intake of fruits and vegetables, excessive salt consumption, and a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol consumption, and overweight and obesity. Having a family history of hypertension, old age, and presence of diabetes or kidney diseases increases the risk of hypertension. Uncontrolled hypertension can eventually lead to cardiovascular diseases.

Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between overweight or obesity and blood pressure and risk for hypertension. In the Framingham Study initiated by the United States Public Health Service to investigate the epidemiology and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, participants of the study of both sexes demonstrated increasing blood pressures with increased overweight. It also showed that hypertension is about twice as prevalent in the obese compared to the non-obese of both sexes.

Several types of interventions were known to be effective in lowering blood pressure on top of blood pressure–lowering medications, which includes the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, sodium reduction, potassium supplementation, increased physical activity, and reduction in alcohol consumption for preventing hypertension in adults. It has also been observed among postmenopausal women with hypertension that aerobic exercise significantly lowers blood pressure even when there is no weight loss experienced. However, weight loss of at least 1 kg every week for patients with Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/m2 through lifestyle, medication, or surgery is still recommended.

Losing weight can be achieved by moving, eating less, and making smarter food choices. Different interventions are also being adopted, such as the “52100” advocacy of PHA that conveys the message of practicing 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours of screen time, 1 hour of moderate physical activity, 0 sugary and sweetened beverages, and 0 smoking and secondhand smoke.

Written by: Sean Frances Barredo


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