An "A-Ha" Moment About High Blood Pressure

I came across something interesting in the Tissues chapter of my Anatomy & Physiology textbook (Introduction to the Human Body by Tortora & Derrickson). In a section about adipose tissue, commonly known as fat, it has this to say about why obese people frequently have high blood pressure:

As the amount of adipose tissue increases with weight gain, new blood vessels form. Thus, an obese person has many more blood vessels than does a lean person, a situation that can cause high blood pressure, since the heart has to work harder.

So, fat cells are a type of tissue that is capable of “growing” more blood vessels as they increase.

I have to admit that this wasn’t something I’d given much thought to before. I’d assumed that high blood pressure was generally due to the strain on the heart from carrying more weight in general!


2 Responses to An "A-Ha" Moment About High Blood Pressure

  1. jenga February 9, 2011 at 9:21 AM #

    hey jenn!
    i remember in a & p last year, my amazing teacher told us that a pound of hydrated adipose tissue requires some ridiculous amount of blood vessels. I want to say that it was something like 100 miles per pound. Totally crazy! Add that to the amount of fat being deposited in the arteries and the amount of physical pressure placed on the heart by the fat itself and YIKES. It just sounds so dangerous.

    • jennutrition February 9, 2011 at 9:27 AM #

      Wowzers – that does sound crazy!