RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

Life-saving research targets obesity epidemic in Australia

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Researchers want to gain a better understanding of the correlation between hypertension and obesity.


By U2B Staff 

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Researchers in Australia are working on identifying better ways to treat hypertension in obese patients, amid rising concern that the obesity epidemic is undermining expert attempts to reduce cardiovascular deaths.

To better understand the relationship between obesity and hypertension, the Dobney Hypertension Centre, a joint venture between the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Royal Perth Hospital, is looking for patients who are obese and have hypertension to participate in a new clinical trial.

“Studies have already shown a correlation between weight gain and blood pressure,” UWA  Professor Markus Schlaich pointed out in a MedicalXpress report. Schlaich also holds the Dobney Chair in Clinical Research at the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation.

“This is very concerning when you consider that it is projected that 75 percent of women and 83 percent of men, who live in industrialised countries like Australia and the US, will be obese by 2025.

“Statistics indicate that 60 to 70 percent of hypertension diagnoses may be directly attributable to obesity.”

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According to the Dobney centre, hypertension is the biggest killer worldwide with an estimated 10 million deaths per year directly attributable to uncontrolled blood pressure. 

In Australia, cardiovascular diseases affect over six million adult people and is directly linked to 27 percent of deaths every year. A recent study by UWA professors and scientists from the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation revealed that 50 percent of Australians living with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it.

Although hypertension comes in many facets, it is frequently associated with obesity and chronic kidney disease.

Commenting on the correlation between hypertension and the obesity epidemic in Australia, UWA lead researcher Dr Revathy Carnagarin said more research was necessary to identify better treatment options.

“This is because many of the current approaches don’t address the unique complications caused by being both overweight and hypertensive,” he said.

“Obesity-related hypertension (OHT) is a complex disorder and current hypertension guidelines do not provide specific recommendations for treating it.

“Some medications have even been shown to be less effective in obese patients. As such, combinations of various pharmacologic, blood pressure-lowering approaches are particularly required in the management of obesity-related hypertension.”

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He added that obesity could also trigger a chain of events in the body such as sleep apnea, impaired kidney function, and insulin resistance, among many others, which could lead to high blood pressure.

Exercise and healthy diet plans may remain the best ways to tackle both obesity and hypertension issues but may not always work for everyone, the researcher said.

“In addition, most patients fail to implement and sustain the appropriate lifestyle changes long term,” Dr. Carnagarin said.

“Achieving long-term weight loss and lowering blood pressure needs lifestyle changes as well as blood pressure drug therapy.”

For the clinical trial, researchers are looking for participants aged between 25 and 65, with a BMI higher than 30 and who have been diagnosed with hypertension.