AHA: Weight Loss Can Normalize Hypertension

Blood pressure normalized in half of overweight study subjects who achieved normal body mass index

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- In half of overweight hypertensive patients, excess pounds may be the primary cause of the hypertension, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's 61st Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research in Tucson, Ariz.

Roberto Fogari, M.D., of the University of Pavia, Italy, and colleagues studied 189 overweight, never-medicated stage 1 hypertensives who went on a reduced-calorie diet with or without orlistat to reduce their body weight by at least 5 percent within six months. Subjects who met this goal continued the interventions for another six months.

The researchers found that 111 subjects lost at least 5 percent of their body weight (mean 7.6 percent) and that their systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased by a mean of 6.9 and 4.2 mm Hg, respectively. Of the 53 subjects who achieved a normal body mass index, 28 (53 percent) also achieved a normal blood pressure.

"This is important because it means that in these patients with elevated blood pressure who were overweight, the blood pressure was not a form of essential hypertension but was hypertension secondary to body weight," Fogari said in a statement. "The first step is to help the overweight patient lose weight. Only after six months of trying to reduce the patient's weight can a decision be made about drug treatment."

Abstract #P213

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