Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Worried about high BP? Mind your stress and weight

Dr. Sarita Behera explains why you should focus on stress relieving and weight loss to control your blood pressure

Published: Feb 5, 2020 12:22:11 PM IST
Updated: Feb 5, 2020 03:00:23 PM IST

Worried about high BP? Mind your stress and weight

In India, there has been significant increase in the prevalence of obesity over the last 10 to 15 years, with almost one third of the adult urban population estimated to be overweight or obese. The basic cause for obesity is an imbalance between intake and expenditure or energy. However, numerous factors have contributed to the rising prevalence of obesity among Indians such as lifestyle changes due to urbanisation and industrialisation, limited physical activity, poor dietary habits etc.

During obesity, the increase in fatty tissue increases the vascular resistance that consequently increases the workload on heart to pump the blood throughout the body. Primary hypertension is consistently gaining prevalence in association with obesity. Studies report that hypertension is 34 times more prevalent in obese children as compared to non-obese.

Though anti-hypertensive medications are helpful in lowering down the blood pressure, achieving weight loss can significantly reduce the blood pressure levels or may also permit a decrease in number or amount of medications taken. Several lifestyle changes like healthy diet composed of fresh fruits and vegetables, low salt and fats; being physically active with regular exercise; limiting alcohol intake can be helpful in reducing weight and hypertension.

Weight loss would surely be beneficial in managing your blood pressure if not to normal but at least to some extent with definite benefit on risk progression.

Issued in Public Interest by USV PVT LTD 

Stress is a normal psychological and physical response to the day-to-day demands of life.  Human body reacts to stress by releasing hormones that increase the blood pressure by increasing your heartbeat and narrowing down your blood vessels, make the brain more alert, cause rapid breathing and tightening of the muscles. Acute stress, the short-term stress goes away quickly, and helps you manage a dangerous or exciting situation. However, chronic stress lasts for a longer period of time, may be weeks or months and makes the body stay alert, even in the absence of an acute cause. Over time, it builds up and exerts an adverse impact on health, and leads to problems associated with blood pressure, heart, immunity, mental health, etc.

Reacting to stress in unhealthy ways such as smoking, overeating or eating unhealthy food, drinking too much of alcohol, and social isolation can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Though long-term high blood pressure is associated with heart, blood vessels and kidney problems, frequent temporary spikes in blood pressure can harm your health in a similar way as long-term hypertension. It has been established that relieving stress can lower your blood pressure. In today’s fast-paced world it is important to master stress management as it can be a life-saver. It would help to develop healthy behavior changes that would positively impact your blood pressure and overall health.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.