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  Heart Facts

Blood Pressure

One of the most common complications of obesity is hypertension, or high blood pressure. In the Western world, about a third of all cases of hypertension are thought to be due to obesity, and in men under 45 years it may be as high as 60 percent. Around 30% of individuals who are at least 30 lbs. overweight have mildly elevated blood pressure. The etiology of this increase in blood pressure appears to be related to substances produced by adipose (fat) tissue and to the increase in the hormone insulin that occurs with obesity. Obese individuals with hypertension should first be treated with dietary methods in an attempt to bring their weight down to more normal levels. The majority of people who normalize their weight and avoid excess salt can avoid being on blood pressure medications. Data from the Framingham Heart Study found that men who had a 15 percent decrease in weight or had a 10 to 20 percent loss of initial body weight over three years showed a risk reduction for hypertension of 70 to 75 percent.

Coronary Artery Disease

Unhealthy weight not only enhances many of the risk factors for coronary heart disease--high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides and increased insulin resistance--it has also been found to be a serious risk factor in itself. However, there is solid evidence that overweight people who achieve a more desirable weight improve their cholesterol profile, decreasing both total and the so-called "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

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