Obesity–hypertension: an ongoing pandemic

Authors

  • E. A. Francischetti,

    1. Hypertension Clinic, Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathophysiology, CLINEX, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • V. A. Genelhu

    1. Hypertension Clinic, Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathophysiology, CLINEX, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Disclosures
    E. A. Francischetti has received research fundings, travel grants and honoraria for speaking at meetings sponsored/organised by Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis. V. A. Genelhu declares that she has no conflict of interest. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest with respect to this article.

E. A. Francischetti, Hypertension Clinic, Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathophysiology, CLINEX, Rio de Janeiro State University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tel.: +55 21 22655538
Fax: +55 21 22543800
Email: eafranc@uerj.br

Summary

Considerable evidence has suggested that excessive weight gain is the most common cause of arterial hypertension. This association has been observed in several populations, in different regions of the world. Obesity–hypertension, a term that underscores the link between these two deleterious conditions, is an important public health challenge, because of its high frequency and concomitant risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases. The obesity–hypertension pandemic imposes a considerable economic burden on societies, directly reflecting on healthcare system costs. Increased renal sodium reabsorption and blood volume expansion are central features in the development of obesity–hypertension. Overweight is also associated with increased sympathetic activity. Leptin, a protein expressed in and secreted by adipocytes, is the main factor linking obesity, increased sympathetic nervous system activity and hypertension. The renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system has also been causally implicated in obesity–hypertension, because angiotensinogen is expressed in and secreted by adipose tissue. Hypoadiponectinemia, high circulating levels of free fatty acids and increased vascular production of endothelin-1 (ET-1) have been reported as potential mechanisms for obesity–hypertension. Lifestyle changes are effective in obesity–hypertension control, though pharmacological treatment is frequently necessary. Despite the consistency of the mechanistic approach in explaining the causal relation between hypertension and obesity, there is yet no evidence that one class of drug is superior to the others in controlling obesity–hypertension. In this review, we present the current knowledge and research in obesity–hypertension, exploring the epidemiologic evidence of the association, its probable pathophysiological mechanisms and treatment issues.

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