Definitely not. Obesity is defined as a body mass index above 30 and this is considered a major risk factor for hypertension. When one is obese, the heart has to work much harder to pump blood through the body. This places strain on the arteries which in turn resist the normal flow of blood causing blood pressure to elevate. In addition, being overweight places a strain on the kidneys which further stresses the heart. The combination of being overweight and having high blood pressure results in the small vessels of the kidney becoming damaged. Ultimately, the vessel walls become thicker and this leads to compromised blood flow which makes it difficult for the kidneys to filter your blood and take away excess fluid and waste. When you can’t remove the excess fluid, the heart has to work harder and harder. It’s a fact that losing weight and achieving healthy body fat levels decreases the risk of developing hypertension and is clutch to blood pressure management in people with hypertension. This is why lifestyle modification is key! The best thing you can do to reduce weight is to incorporate more physical activity into your life. I tell my patients that they should be exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It’s a simple as walking out the door in one direction for 15 minutes and then turning around and walking back for another 15. Eating less salt is also key! Become a food label connoisseur— see my previous post for specific sodium intake recommendations. And finally, depending on what your global diet consists of, you may want to consider a total diet makeover. Diets such as the DASH diet are specifically designed and recommended for individuals with hypertension. This dietary model emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole-grains and low or nonfat dairy products. It is very similar to the Mediterranean diet which I am a HUGE fan of!