Severely obese patients may experience significant, long-term improvements in blood pressure as they lose substantial amounts of weight after gastric bypass surgery, thereby contributing to their overall health, according to a new University of Pittsburgh study, published in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery. Excess body weight is associated with a host of health complications including diabetes, certain cancers and joint stress, with nearly two-thirds of very obese patients suffering from high blood pressure -- the primary risk factor for both stroke and heart disease.
BMI is a height-to-weight ratio that determines a patient's degree of obesity. A BMI less than 25 is considered to be a healthy weight, while a BMI of 40 or greater is categorized as extreme obesity. At the time of data analysis, 18 months after surgery, study patients' Long-term weight loss and changes in blood pressure had stabilized to about 35 -- still categorized as obese. Half of the study patients were classed as hypertensive prior to gastric bypass surgery.
Of those, some were unmedicated and had high blood pressure others were being treated for their hypertension. The patients who were not being treated for hypertension prior to surgery experienced significant blood pressure decreases that continued to remain low 18 months after surgery.
Of the patients under active drug treatment for hypertension prior to surgery, about one-third were able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medications after surgery. The group of patients with normal blood pressure who were taking no blood pressure medications before surgery showed insignificant changes following surgery. In counseling patients who are considering gastric bypass surgery, this study will help us to identify those patients who can reasonably expect the long-lasting health benefits from significantly reduced blood pressure," said study co-author Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.
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Regulation of blood pressure with baroreceptors
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