Dropping a Few Pounds Good for Blood Pressure
For the millions of
Americans who are overweight, new research provides one more reason to resolve
to shed a few pounds in the new year. Even modest weight loss can lead to
long-term reduction in blood pressure, study findings show.
anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, keeping the pounds off is not
easy. Study participants had a hard time maintaining weight loss, which
highlights the need for weight-loss programs that keep shrinking waistlines
from expanding again, according to the study's authors.
included nearly 1,200 overweight men and women aged 30 to 54 who had blood
pressure in the upper range of normal, meaning that they were at risk of
developing high blood pressure, or hypertension (140/90 or greater).
participants had systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure
reading) that was lower than 140 and diastolic blood pressure (the second
number) ranging from 83 to 89.
Half of the participants were assigned to
a 3- years weight-loss program that included group and individual counseling.
The other half was assigned to a "control" group that received normal medical
care. Weight and blood pressure were measured every 6 months.
expected, participants who lost the most weight had the largest reductions in
blood pressure. In the one-fifth of people who lost the most weight, diastolic
blood pressure and systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 7 and 5
points, respectively. In contrast, diastolic pressure dropped only 0.7 points
and systolic pressure rose 2.5 points in those in the bottom one-fifth of
weight loss group.
The researchers also report that people in the
weight-loss group were less likely to develop high blood pressure.
the drop in high blood pressure disappeared when participants regained the
weight they had lost, the report indicates. In people who lost weight only to
regain it, blood pressure readings crept back up to nearly the same level as
they had been before they lost weight.
Weight loss should continue to be
promoted for preventing high blood pressure. The challenge is to develop
weight-loss programs that achieve higher long-term success rates.
results of the study leave no doubt that weight reduction is a worthwhile
objective for people whose body weight is higher than ideal, whose blood
pressure is already high, or who are at risk for
Interestingly, the study showed that just 13% of people in
the weight-loss group were able to maintain their weight loss for 3
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