By now, we know how effective medications such as Zepbound and other glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists are in chronic weight management. However, this drug may have additional cardiovascular benefits for those with diabetes outside of just weight loss. In particular, new data suggests that Zepbound may improve blood pressure levels, which can consequently improve the health of your heart.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the amount of pressure caused by blood pushing up against your artery walls. Your arteries are what transport blood from your heart to other areas around the body. Blood pressure typically increases and decreases throughout the day, depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is an important parameter that healthcare providers take to ensure the health of your cardiovascular system. A blood pressure reading is provided in two numbers, which include:

  • Systolic blood pressure. This is the level of pressure within your arteries that occurs with each heartbeat.
  • Diastolic blood pressure. This is the level of pressure within your arteries that occurs at rest between heartbeats.

Blood pressure readings are provided as the systolic number over the diastolic number. For example, if you have a systolic number of 110 and a diastolic number of 75, your blood pressure reading would be 110/75 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

What is hypertension?

You may have heard people throw around the word “hypertension”, but what exactly does that mean? Hypertension is a medical term used to describe high blood pressure.

A normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or less. However, some people will have blood pressure readings that are higher than this. Hypertension is defined as a systolic reading of 130 mmHg or higher and a diastolic reading of 80 mmHg or higher.

It is important to note that your blood pressure will fluctuate throughout the day. Blood pressure can vary as a result of stress, physical activity, medication, food, drink, and more. However, sustained high blood pressures above normal are what can be dangerous if left untreated.

Hypertension and diabetes are very closely linked. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have high blood pressure versus those without diabetes.

What are the consequences of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure can cause serious damage to various organs, including your heart, kidneys, brain, and eyes. In terms of your heart, it lessens the elasticity of your arteries, reducing blood flow and oxygen going to your heart. Over time, this can cause heart disease, angina (chest pain), heart failure, and heart attack.

High blood pressure can also affect the arteries going to your brain. Hypertension can cause the arteries to become blocked or burst. This prevents oxygen from reaching your brain, causing a stroke. A stroke can impair your movement, speech, and daily functioning or can even lead to death.

Finally, high blood pressure can increase your risk of chronic kidney disease due to the damage to the blood vessels in your kidneys. Thus, although you may not feel the immediate effects of high blood pressure, it is essential to manage it to prevent these complications.

How does tirzepatide affect blood pressure?

Most people use tirzepatide (Zepbound, Mounjaro) for weight loss and type 2 diabetes management, but did you know that it could help with blood pressure? A recent study published in February found that tirzepatide can improve the health of your heart. Let’s review the details of the trial.

The study included almost 500 subjects on tirzepatide, all of which wore a 24-hour blood pressure monitor. The participants were randomized into three separate groups, each taking a different dose of tirzepatide. After 36 weeks, patients who were on tirzepatide demonstrated drops in systolic blood pressure between 7.4 to 10.6 mmHg versus those taking a placebo. The patients taking the 10 mg dose of tirzepatide benefited the most.

It is important to note that the study only included individuals who had “normal” blood pressures that were less than 140/90 mmHg. Thus, further research is needed to understand tirzepatide’s effects on those with hypertension.

Another important note is that tirzepatide likely does not work directly on blood pressure. Tirzepatide helps to decrease weight, which in turn lowers your blood pressure. Thus, tirzepatide causes indirect effects on blood pressure.

How does weight loss help your heart?

There are so many widespread benefits to losing weight, even if it’s just a moderate amount. Modest weight loss, defined as a reduction of five to ten percent of one’s baseline body weight, is associated with improved quality of life, mobility, sexual function, and urinary stress incontinence. One’s mortality can even improve when weight loss exceeds greater than ten percent.

When it comes to the heart, modest amounts of weight loss of five to ten percent can improve both your systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Additional cardiovascular parameters that weight loss can improve include cholesterol and triglycerides. Likewise, weight loss due to tirzepatide is bound to support your heart health.

How much weight can I expect to lose with Zepbound?

Zepbound is available at doses of 5, 10, and 15 mg once weekly, with a maximum dose of 15 mg once weekly. Its efficacy in weight loss was assessed in two double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies in adults who were either obese or overweight with at least one weight-associated issue. These research studies looked at weight loss after 72 weeks in over 2,500 individuals receiving Zepbound at various doses or placebo.

Both trials demonstrated that Zepbound provided statistically significant decreases in body weight versus placebo. Individuals with diabetes saw average reductions of 12 percent of their body weight versus placebo. Individuals without diabetes saw average reductions of 18 percent of their body weight versus those on placebo. Additionally, more patients on Zepbound lost at least five percent of their baseline body weight versus placebo.

Based on these results, most people can expect to see significant weight loss when starting Zepbound. Knowing the link between weight and blood pressure, you may also see improvements in your blood pressure readings.

How else can I manage my blood pressure?

Eat a heart-healthy diet

Managing your blood pressure starts in the kitchen! You’ll want to incorporate meals that are full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, skinless fish and poultry, and low-fat dairy products. Additionally, you should limit alcohol, sodium, saturated and trans fats, fatty meats, and added sugar.

Additionally, make sure to always check food labels. Foods high in salt, for example, can elevate your blood pressure. Other foods like trans or saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels, which can also impact your heart health.

Get active

Exercise and movement are great ways to regulate high blood pressure. It also can help you lose weight, lower stress, and improve your heart health. Aim to get a minimum of 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity exercise. An easy way to do this is to engage in physical activity for 30 minutes five days a week.

Ensure that you are breathing enough when you are exercising. Holding your breath can increase your blood pressure.

Control your stress

High blood pressure and stress are closely linked. When we feel high levels of stress, our bodies produce stress hormones known as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones signal our body to increase our heart rate and constrict our blood vessels.

Constriction of the blood vessels and elevated heart rate temporarily increase your blood pressure. Although blood pressure normalizes after the immediate stress is gone, chronic stress can cause strain on our bodies and potentially our blood pressure.

Take blood pressure medication

While Zepbound can indirectly help with blood pressure, there are plenty of medications out there that actively lower blood pressure. If you have hypertension, you should be on a blood pressure-lowering medication. Discuss your blood pressure with your doctor, as they will be able to prescribe you a safe and effective treatment to manage your levels.

Note that naturopathic approaches are not substitutes for traditional hypertension treatment. Make sure to always discuss any supplements or medications you take with your doctor first.

Conclusion

In summary, diabetes and high blood pressure are very closely linked. High blood pressure can adversely affect your cardiovascular health as well as your brain, eye, and kidney health.

An important way to manage your blood pressure is through maintaining a healthy weight. Thankfully, new weight loss medications are available that can help you to lose weight, thus helping to lower blood pressure. Lifestyle interventions, such as antihypertensive medication, managing stress, a healthy diet, and exercise, are also important in treating hypertension.