Standard medications used to treat hypertension don’t control blood pressure (hypertension) in almost 60 per cent of patients according to new research. Researchers at the Dobney Hypertension Centre – a joint venture between The University of Western Australia, RPH Research Foundation and Royal Perth Hospital – discovered this during an analysis of blood pressure screening results from around the nation which has been published in European Heart Journal Supplements.
Head of the Dobney Hypertension Centre, Professor Markus Schlaich, from UWA’s Medical School, said alcohol consumption and obesity were major contributors to this public health problem, which, if left untreated, could cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.
Professor Schlaich said while a third of adult Australians had high hypertension, only half of them are aware they have the potentially life-threatening condition.
“Hypertension is responsible for 13 per cent of total deaths in Australia. Our findings demonstrate the need for continued efforts to increase blood pressure awareness in the community, devise better blood pressure management strategies and tackle contributing factors such as alcohol intake and obesity,” he said.
“Both excessive alcohol consumption and obesity can trigger a complex chain of events in the human body that elevate blood pressure. They include obstructive sleep apnoea, impaired kidney function, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and increased sodium sensitivity and reabsorption.”
The project’s lead investigator Dr Revathy Carnagarin said having high blood pressure combined with obesity could further increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular consequences.
“Obesity-related hypertension (OHT) is a complex disorder and current hypertension guidelines do not provide specific recommendations for treating it,” Dr Carnagarin said.
“Some medications have been shown to be less effective in patients with obesity. More research is needed to better understand how to treat high blood pressure in patients who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above because many of the current approaches don’t address the unique complications that people who have both of these conditions face.”
Weight loss and exercise are still at the forefront of tackling obesity and obesity-related hypertension, but Dr Carnagarin said they did not always produce the desired results.
“The difficulties in achieving long-term weight loss with lifestyle measures and the variable blood pressure responses to weight loss ultimately necessitates anti-hypertensive drug therapy,” she said.