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Diet, Weight Drug May Curb Hypertension

Losing weight with a healthy
diet or with the weight loss drug Xenical may
ease high blood pressure , according
to a new research review.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight helps treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
And a healthy diet and active lifestyle are important for blood pressure,
too.

The new research review doesn't change any of that. The reviewers aren't
suggesting taking weight loss pills instead of
making lifestyle changes.

The reviewers, who included Karl Horvath, MD, of Austria's Medical
University of Graz, analyzed data from 15 weight loss studies of adult
hypertension patients. Here's a quick look at their findings.

Diet and High Blood Pressure

Seven of the reviewed studies focused on diet, not drugs .

Together, the studies included 1,632 patients. Some patients were assigned
to go on weight loss diets . For
comparison, others didn't change their eating habits.

The studies lasted for at least six months. During that time, the dieters
shed 9 pounds more than those who kept their diets.

The dieters also trimmed 6 extra points off their systolic blood pressure
(the first number in a blood pressure reading) and about 3 extra points off
their diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure reading),
compared with those who didn't diet.

Weight Loss Drugs and High Blood Pressure

The review also included eight studies of the weight loss drugs orlistat,
sold under the brand name Xenical, and sibutramine or Meridia .

Orlistat is also the active ingredient in the over-the-counter weight loss
drug Alli. But the reviewed studies used Xenical's prescription dose, not
Alli's dose.

The studies, which lasted for at least six months, together included 3,132
patients who took Xenical or a placebo and 610 patients who took Meridia or a
placebo.

In most of those studies, the patients also got advice about diet and physical activity .

Patients taking Xenical or Meridia lost 8.2 more pounds, on average, than
those taking the placebos.

Compared with placebo, Xenical was linked to an average systolic blood
pressure improvement of 2.5 points and an average diastolic blood pressure
improvement of 2 points.

But Meridia users had an average increase of about 3 points in their
systolic blood pressure, compared with placebo. "Although [Meridia]
treatment reduced body weight, it did not lower or might even elevate blood
pressure," write Horvath and colleagues.

Meridia is already known to "substantially increase blood pressure or
heart rate in some patients and should not be given to patients with
uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension," states Meridia's web
site.

Xenical is made by Roche Laboratories; Meridia is made by Abbott
Laboratories.

Writing in today's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the
reviewers note that several of the studies weren't of top-notch quality.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Elizabeth Klodas
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