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Gastric Bypass Surgery with Severely Obese patients helped Lower Blood Pressure

March 21st, 2006

Gastric Bypass Surgery with Severely Obese patients helped Lower Blood Pressure

Body Weight calculate BMI

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh found that exceedingly obese patients that undergo gastric bypass bariatric surgery often have a long-term benefit of lowered blood pressure and some patients no longer need to take hypertensive medications.  This study was first published in the March issue of the Archives of Surgery.

The reason for the correction in blood pressure is that after the stomach is reduced in size the patients lose a large amount of weight.  This improves the patients overall health.  There are approximately two-thirds of the excessively obese patients that have high blood pressure.


"These results suggest that the blood pressure status of patients prior to gastric bypass surgery may give us good and realistic indicators of those patients who are likely to experience substantial improvements in blood pressure after surgery over the long term and who may, as a result, avoid cardiovascular disease or stroke," said Dr. John Fernstrom, Ph.D. who is a professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and research director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Weight Management Center. "Our data also indicate that following surgery, certain patients may no longer need the medications they were taking to control their blood pressure prior to surgery.Ē


Fernstrom along with fellow researchers looked at data of 347 patients that underwent the gastric bypass surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from 1992 through 2001.  The 347 patients had a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40 which is considered excessively obese.

Eighteen months after the gastric bypass surgery was performed most of the obese patients settled in around 35 BMI which is still obese.  The BMI goal for a healthy weight is 25 BMI or less. Overweight BMI is from 25 - 29.9.  Obese BMI starts at 30 and goes up from there.  You can calculate your BMI rating at a number of websites, but here is one from the National Institutes of Health.


In this study there were approximately one-half of the 347 patients that were categorized as having hypertension before undergoing gastric bypass surgery.  Some of these patients that had hypertension were not taking medication while others were being treated with drugs.  The patients that did not take medication had significantly lowered blood pressure after 18 months following the surgery.  Approximately one-third of patients taking medication were able to either stop taking the blood pressure lowering drugs or were able to lower the dosage.  The patients that did not have high blood pressure didnít see any significant changes in blood pressure.

"For those severely overweight patients with elevated blood pressure, or under treatment for elevated blood pressure, bariatric surgery offers the promise of improved health, with not only substantial and sustained weight loss, but also the added benefit of significant blood pressure improvements," said the studies co-author Anita Courcoulas, M.D. who is an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery program at UPMC.

The researchers believe it is the weight loss that has caused the changes in blood pressure.  Gastric bypass surgery should be a last resort.  Diet and exercise should be addressed as weight loss is the key to a healthier body.  It is important to consult your doctor before undergoing any new exercise or diet routines.

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Nicole Wilson
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