Maintaining healthy weight throughout life prevents increase in BP with age

Maintaining healthy weight throughout life prevents increase in BP with age

Dr KK Aggarwal

Maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life has been identified as the most important factor that maintains blood pressure (BP) at optimum levels and prevents increase in BP from young adulthood into middle age, according to a new research presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, American Society of Hypertension Joint Scientific Sessions 2017 in San Francisco.

The 25-year follow-up study evaluated more than 4500 subjects of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, who were 18 to 30 years old in 1985 and 1986, when the study began and examined the effect of five health behaviors on blood pressure levels.

1. Healthy body weight (body mass index less than 25 kg/m2)
2. Never smoking
3. Zero to seven alcoholic drinks per week for women and zero to 14 for men
4. Moderate to vigorous physical activity for 150 min or more every week
5. Eating a healthy diet, based on adhering to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan

Those who maintained optimal body weight were 41% less likely to have an increasing BP as they aged, while no changes in BP were observed with maintaining physical activity or a healthy diet. Never smoking and maintaining no or moderate alcohol consumption were associated with less of an increase in blood pressure by middle age. The other behaviors studied influence body weight and also have clear benefits for overall cardiovascular health. Hence, they may have a role in maintaining healthy BP levels.

The study participants who maintained at least four health behaviors had 27% greater probability to have a normal BP than an increasing BP from early adulthood through middle age.

Hypertension is the most common modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The association of high BP with heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, overweight/obesity and diabetes is well-recognized.

I strongly believe in the age-old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. And, this study once again reiterates the importance of prevention as a strategy to check the rising prevalence of high BP. Preventive efforts for lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis should start at a young age.

Any weight gain after puberty is invariably due to fat. Though the overall weight can be in the acceptable normal range but any weight gain within that range will be abnormal for that person. Therefore, any individual who gains weight of more than 5 kg after the age of 18 years in girls and 20 years in boys is obese and overweight. Any weight gain at this age should be avoided.

(Source: AHA Press Release, September 14, 2017)

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