Small Weight Gain May Push Blood Pressure Higher

Weight gained near abdomen associated with greater blood pressure increase

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Losing weight can be an effective way to fight high blood pressure and improve heart health. A slight weight increase, however, may raise blood pressure.

For those who are overweight or obese, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease is well established. Compared to those of normal weight, they are more likely to have a stroke, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

A new study has revealed that gaining as few as 5 pounds may tip the scales when it comes to blood pressure.

"Maintain a healthy weight to lower your risk of high blood pressure."

The research was led by Naima Covassin, PhD, a research fellow in the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The authors presented their findings Sept. 10 at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions 2014.

The study authors monitored the blood pressure of 26 healthy people over the course of eight weeks. The patients ranged in age from 18 to 48. All patients began the study at a normal weight.

Each day, 16 of these patients received an extra 400 to 1,200 calories. Food choices included ice cream shakes, chocolate bars or energy drinks. They had an average weight gain of 5 percent.

The authors compared the blood pressure results from these patients to results from 10 people of normal weight who maintained their weight for eight weeks.

Dr. Covassin and colleagues observed that those who gained weight had a rise in blood pressure. The top number, or systolic pressure (when the heart contracts), climbed from an average of 114 to 118 points.

The blood pressure of those in the control group did not change.

The location of the weight gain on the body also affected blood pressure. Those who put on more pounds around the stomach had higher blood pressure increases than those who put on weight elsewhere.

The authors noted, however, that a 5- to 11-pound weight increase did not affect cholesterol, insulin or blood sugar levels.

"The public awareness of the adverse health effects of obesity is increasing; however, it seems most people are not aware of the risks of a few extra pounds," Dr. Covassin said in a press release. "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."

The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Research presented at conferences has not necessarily been peer-reviewed.

Review Date: 
September 10, 2014
Last Updated:
September 11, 2014