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Can Losing Weight Lower Blood Pressure? Answered by a Doctor

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 28, 2022

High blood pressure is a serious condition that can cause everything from an aneurysm to heart attack and heart failure.

One of the most frequent questions I get from my clients is if weight loss can lower blood pressure.

I talked with a friend doctor and helped people with high blood pressure lose weight. Here’s what I found out.

Quick Summary

  • Achieving a healthy weight can help you have lower pressure.
  • You should lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid foods with saturated fat and other risk factors to have normal blood pressure.
  • Increased blood pressure can cause several health problems.
  • There are several ways to lower your pressure.

Weight and Blood Pressure

Current data says that there are 500 000 000 overweight people worldwide.

Overweight is defined by body mass index (BMI) between 25.0 and 29.9. US data shows that 66% of the adult population is either overweight or obese [1].

“High blood pressure (also referred to as HBP, or hypertension) is when your blood pressure, the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels, is consistently too high.”

- American Heart Association 

Being overweight causes hypertension, which is systolic pressure higher than 140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure higher than 90 mm Hg. It’s estimated that 50 million people suffer from increased blood pressure in the US [2].

Several studies found there’s a higher chance of increased blood pressure in obese people than in non-obese [3] [4] [5].

How Does Weight Loss Affect Blood Pressure?

Showing a result of blood pressure

Weight loss positively affects blood pressure.

Higher than normal blood pressure is related to unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, having too much body weight, and not exercising enough or at all.

All this leads to weight gain, and the extra pounds you carry cause higher blood pressure.

This is especially concerning because chronic blood pressure causes half a million deaths yearly.

Moreover, being overweight causes sleep apnea (breathing issues while sleeping), which also raises the pressure.

But, if you achieve a healthy weight, you’ll be keeping your blood pressure in check. If you lose weight, you’ll lower your blood pressure numbers because the heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump the blood around the body.

This also means you’ll be at a lower risk of other health problems, such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.

You don’t even need to lose a lot of weight. Even if you’re losing weight in small amounts, you’ll be lowering your blood pressure. It’s estimated that for every pound you lose, you lower your blood pressure by a point [6].

For example, if you lose 10 pounds, your blood pressure can drop by 10 points, which is a large decrease and means a lower chance of heart disease.

Apart from weight loss, you should keep an eye on your waistline. Too much weight around the waist puts you at a greater risk of blood pressure.

Women should keep their waist measurements lower than 35 inches. However, it’s always best to consult a doctor when losing weight and check if you have the correct waist measurement.

Related article: Can Weight Loss Lower Blood Pressure?

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What is Considered Healthy Blood Pressure?

Upper less than 120 and lower less than 80 is considered healthy blood pressure.

Here are blood pressure numbers, so you’ll know which category you fall in and if you should lower your blood pressure:

  • Normal: Upper less than 120, lower less than 80
  • Elevated: Upper 120 to 129, lower less than 80
  • High blood pressure stage 1: Upper 130 to 129, lower 80 to 89
  • High blood pressure stage 2: Upper 140 or higher, lower, 90 or higher
  • Critical, consult a doctor straight away: Upper higher than 180, lower higher than 120

6 Tips on Controlling High Blood Pressure

Partners performing exercise

Here’s how to control your blood pressure, apart from losing weight.

1. Exercise Regularly

One of the best ways to lower blood pressure (and lose weight and lower body mass index) is to be active.

Regular physical activity can bring your pressure down by 4 to 9 points. You should exercise at least half an hour a day, most days of the week.

Note: It’s crucial to be consistent because if you stop working out, your pressure will go back up.

Exercising can also help prehypertension, or at-risk hypertension, not develop into full hypertension.

The best exercises for weight loss and lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, or cycling.

Strength training and pumping iron are also good choices, especially for women, as they lose muscle steadily as they age.

Exercising will bring you plenty of health benefits, and you’ll probably even lose weight.

2. Limit Alcohol

Pouring alcohol into glass

Be careful with alcohol. Small amounts of alcohol can even lower your pressure by 2 to 4 points.

But, too much alcohol will raise your pressure by several points and will make blood pressure medication ineffective.

Generally, more than one drink a day for women is too much for blood pressure. One drink can be 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor.

3. Quit Smoking

Even one cigarette a day will increase your pressure for several minutes after you’re done smoking it.

Quitting smoking can help you return your pressure to regular numbers and have a longer life expectancy.

4. Lower Caffeine Intake

Top view of a caffeinated drink

You should also be careful with caffeine intake, especially if you don’t consume it often or a lot.

Caffeine is known for weight loss, but it can increase your pressure by 10 points if you aren’t a regular coffee drinker.

However, if you have caffeine regularly, it won’t significantly affect your blood pressure.

You can check if caffeine increases your pressure: measure the pressure half an hour before having a caffeinated drink and after drinking it.

You’re sensitive to caffeine if your pressure goes up by 5 to 10 points.

5. Lower Stress

Chronic stress is a big cause of high pressure. Even occasional stress can cause your blood pressure to go up, especially if you react to stress by eating junk food, drinking, or smoking.

Think about what causes you to feel stressed. For most people, these are factors such as work, family, and finances. Try to eliminate it or reduce stress once you’ve figured out why you feel stressed.

Here’s how to cope with stress:

  • Give yourself more time — Don’t rush, but learn to say no, and set manageable limits.
  • Think about which problems you can solve — For example, talk with your boss about problems at work or family about problems at home.
  • Know what triggers you — For example, if certain people make you feel stressed, try to avoid them.
  • Meditate — Stress hormones constrict blood vessels, which causes blood pressure to spike up. Try meditating or deep breathing exercises to calm yourself down and lower the pressure.

6. Eat Healthily

A person eating salad

Eating healthily can help you lose weight, avoid heart disease, and lower blood pressure.

Eating healthy has a lot of health benefits and can help reduce the risk of increased blood pressure and lower an already high pressure.

You should eat foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol.

Eat whole grains, fish, nuts, poultry, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, because these have low amounts of fats.

Plus, they are high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Here are some tips to help you eat healthily:

  • Keep a food diary — Keep track of what you eat. This will help you have a healthy diet and point out any bad eating habits.
  • Reduce sodium — A small sodium reduction can lower your pressure by 2 to 8 points.
  • Don’t eat processed foods — Most sodium is added during processing, so you should stay away from these foods.
  • Lower amount of salt — 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices instead of salt.
  • Read labels — To avoid foods high in sodium, such as bread and rolls, pizza, soup, cured meats, and cold cuts.

FAQs

How Much Does Systolic Pressure Go Down with Weight Loss?

Systolic pressure goes down by 5 to 20 points for every 20 pounds you lose.

Can Drinking Lots of Water Lower Blood Pressure?

Yes, drinking lots of water can lower blood pressure. Drinking six to eight glasses of water can help.

Do Bananas Lower Blood Pressure?

Yes, bananas lower blood pressure. They are full of potassium, which is a mineral that lowers pressure.

Should You Lose Weight to Lower Pressure?

Weight loss makes a big difference in blood pressure numbers. A healthy weight, regular exercise, and a healthy diet can help you have regular pressure.

You should always consult a doctor before making big changes in your diet and lifestyle. A doctor can recommend what exercise you should do and what diet best suits your organism.

If you need to lose weight to achieve regular blood pressure, check out our round-up of the five best fat burners on the market.


References:

  1. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/hypertensionaha.107.094011
  2. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/hypertensionaha.107.094011
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6219830/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/691146/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7637744/
  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-far-reaching-effects-of-a-little

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