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, 93 (3), 733-51

Obesity and Hypertension: Mechanisms, Cardio-Renal Consequences, and Therapeutic Approaches


Obesity and Hypertension: Mechanisms, Cardio-Renal Consequences, and Therapeutic Approaches

Efrain Reisin et al. Med Clin North Am.


The increasing prevalence of obesity in the industrialized world is causing an alarming epidemic. Almost 70% of American adults are overweight or obese. The link between increasing body weight and hypertension is well established. Obesity hypertension through metabolic, endocrinic, and systemic hemodynamic alteration causes structural vascular and cardiac adaptations that trigger concentric, eccentric left ventricular hypertrophy and electrophysiological changes, which may increase the risk for congestive heart failure and sudden cardiac death as a result of arrhythmias. The increased renal blood flow in conjunction with a decreased renal vascular resistance causes renal hyperperfusion and hyperfiltration. Such changes lead to glomerulomegaly, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, tubulointerstitial inflammation, and fibrosis that characterize the renal damage in obese hypertensive subjects. We propose that weight reduction, with the addition of other nonpharmacological approaches that included exercise and reduction in alcohol intake, should be the first choice to treat obesity hypertension. Salt restriction may be helpful only in salt-sensitive patients. The benefits of diet in obese patients include improvement of insulin sensitivity, reduction in sympathetic nervous and renin angiotensin system activities, and restoration of leptin sensitivity. As a consequence of these and other metabolic changes, the previously described systemic and renal hemodynamic alterations improved and the cardiovascular and renal morphological changes induced by obesity were lessened. After reviewing the medications available, we believe that owing to the cardiovascular and renal morbidity and mortality that characterized obesity hypertension, the ACEI or ARBs offer the best cardio-renal protection and should be the pharmacologic treatment of choice. If these alone do not control BP adequately, then a low-dose diuretic should be added as a second approach. Although we strongly believe in our proposal, more multicenter long-term clinical pharmacological trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the antihypertensive approaches in the treatment of obesity hypertension.

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