Bariatric Surgery and High Blood Pressure - My Bariatric Life

Patient Expert

Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it more commonly called, is one of the obesity-related conditions that I struggled with before my bariatric surgery. Hypertension and pre-hypertension affect nearly half of the adult population over age 18 in the United States. Children and teens are also subject to high blood pressure.

There are a number of risk factors for high blood pressure. Among them are smoking, drinking too much alcohol, stress, ethnic background, genetics, and obesity. High blood pressure often goes undetected unless regular checkups are scheduled.

It is important to note symptoms of extreme hypertension are severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, chest pain, and difficultly breathing. If these symptoms are present, a doctor should be contacted immediately.

High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the measured force against your artery walls when the heart pumps blood.

Blood pressure is measured by two readings, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure during a heartbeat and diastolic pressure is the minimum pressure during a heartbeat. A normal blood pressure is 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). High blood pressure is when your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher most of the time.

Medications are often used to control hypertension although lifestyle changes will most likely be recommended, too. Suggestions might be to begin a program of exercise and modify your diet.

If high blood pressure remains uncontrolled you are at risk for stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.

Obesity and High Blood Pressure

An astonishing two-thirds of people who meet the criteria for obesity are at risk for hypertension.

Obesity effects a number of hormone levels in the body including the system that is responsible for regulating the blood volume of the body. In tandem with the sympathetic nervous system, it controls the levels of sodium and water retention. When obesity interrupts these systems, hypertension can result.

Bariatric Surgery as Resolution for High Blood Pressure

A University of Pittsburgh study concluded in 2006 that gastric bypass surgery can provide long term improvements for high blood pressure.

Half of the subjects in the study were diagnosed with hypertension before they had gastric bypass surgery. Some were medicated to control their hypertension while others were not. Those who took no medicinal aids experienced a meaningful decrease in blood pressure, and about one-third of those who were on medications were able to reduce or discontinue their meds.

In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004, it was stated that nearly 75% of patients with hypertension had either improved or resolved the problem after gastric bypass surgery.

In addition, an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine noted a study of 45 patients with high blood who had gastric bypass surgery.  Ninety-one percent  of the patients were on high blood pressure medications. At the one year mark of the follow-up, it was found that 54% of the patients had their blood pressure issues improve or resolve.

As for me, my hypertension remains resolved ten years after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Whereas I previously had been on two medications for high blood pressure, they were discontinued about a month after my bariatric surgery. At nearly 50-years old, I feel better and look better today than I did when I was in my thirties. Weight-loss surgery truly enabled me to turn my health -- and my life -- around.

Health Guidance  - accessed 6/4/12
Pub Med Health  - accessed 6/4/12
Science Daily  - accessed 6/4/12
Texas Bariatric Statistics  - accessed 6/4/12
WebMD  - accessed 6/4/12

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