Obesity and hypertension: Epidemiological and clinical issues
MacMahon S., Cutler J., Brittain E., Higgins M.
The relationship between obesity and hypertension has been investigated in a large number of cross-sectional population studies and a smaller number of prospective, observational studies. The results indicate that in most populations, blood pressure increases linearly with increasing relative body weight of body mass index. The relationship is present across all subgroups, although the magnitude of the association appears greater in whites than blacks and greater in younger than older persons. It is estimated that as much as one-third of all hypertension may be attributable to obesity in populations where hypertension and obesity are widely prevalent. Evidence from prospective studies and clinical trials suggests that hypertension in obese patients increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and that drug treatment of hypertension reduces the risk. However, it is uncertain whether the risks associated with hypertension and the benefits of treatment are as great in obese hypertensives as they are in lean hypertensives. The effects of weight reduction on blood pressure have been investigated in a small number of randomized, controlled trials involving a total of about 600 participants. Overall, the results of the trials indicate that weight reduction lowers blood pressure over intervals of up to one year. The magnitude of the blood pressure response appears to be directly proportional to the amount of weight loss achieved. However, the latter is inversely related to the length of follow-up. Adequate maintenance of weight loss remains a major problem for the much-needed, long-term trials of the effects of weight reduction on blood pressure and the cardiovascular complications of hypertension.