Inspired living

The link between high blood pressure and body mass index

Doctor measuring obese man waist body fat


High blood pressure often has no symptoms. But over time it can have an adverse effect on your health, causing various health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. As there are no warning signs of high blood pressure, the only way to find out about your blood pressure is to have it checked regularly by your doctor. However, an increase in BMI may be an indication of high blood pressure according to new research from the Yale Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE) in China.

They found that those individuals who were not taking an antihypertensive medication had an increase in blood pressure for every additional unit of their BMI.

A large study called the China Patient-Centered Evaluative Assessment of Cardiac Events (PEACE) Million Persons Project captures information on at least 22,000 subgroups of people in China based on age (35-80), sex, race/ethnicity, geography, occupation and other important characteristics, such as whether or not they are on antihypertensive medication (drugs used to treat hypertension — high blood pressure). The researchers recorded the blood pressure of the participants from the PEACE study from September 2014 to June 2017.

They found that those individuals who were not taking an antihypertensive medication had an increase of 0.8 to 1.7 mm Hg (kg/m2) in blood pressure for every additional unit of their BMI. Overall, the population had a mean BMI of 24.7 and a mean systolic blood pressure of 136.5, which qualifies as stage I hypertension, according to American Heart Association guidelines. These guidelines indicate that high blood pressure is already prevalent among Chinese adults affecting one-third of the population. In fact, only one in 20 with hypertension has their condition under control.

In China, obesity is set to rise by more than triple in men — from 4 per cent in 2010 to 12.3 per cent in 2025 — and double in women — from 5.2 per cent to 10.8 per cent. With an explosive trend like that in China, the findings of this study are extremely important as they show a positive association between an increase in BMI with an increase in high blood pressure. Hypertension is already a major risk factor in China but now it becomes even more important.

According to the researchers, China may be able to address these risk factors by managing high blood pressure in its population with the use of antihypertensive drugs, which has been successful in the United States.

A small study would not be able to effectively identify the link between BMI and hypertension, but the enormous data-set of this study helps the scientists characterise this relationship between BMI and high blood pressure.

Source: JAMA Network Open


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!