Even small weight gain causes blood pressure to rise

Small increases in body weight can affect a person’s blood pressure. This was demonstrated in a US study presented at the «High Blood Pressure Research 2014 Scientific Sessions» (HBPR 2014) of the American Heart Association in San Francisco (California).

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester (Minnesota) carried out an eight-week study in 16 people of normal weight aged 18 to 48. Using a 24-hour monitor, the blood pressure of the participants was measured at the start and at the end of the study. During the study period, they consumed an extra 400 to 1,200 calories per day to reach a 5 per cent weight gain.

Those who had gained weight also demonstrated an increase in the systolic blood pressure from an average 114 mm Hg to an average 118 mm Hg. If the increase in abdominal fat was higher, the increase in blood pressure was also more marked. However, gaining an average of five to eleven pounds had no effect on cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin levels.

«This is an important finding because a five- to seven-pound weight gain may be normal for many during the holiday season, the first year of college or even while on vacation», says study author Naima Covassin. But even a few extra pounds constitute a health risk, she said.