Why obesity causes high blood pressure—and how to stop it

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Obesity is a common, serious, and costly chronic disease in adults and children.

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management and defined high hypertension as blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg.

In a study from the University of Virginia, scientists found why obesity causes high blood pressure and identified potential ways of treating that form of high blood pressure.

The researchers have already confirmed their discovery in human tissue samples and used it to reverse high blood pressure in lab mice.

Obesity is a growing problem worldwide, and with obesity comes a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and stroke, among other health problems.

Small arteries in our body control blood pressure. Scientists have suspected that hypertension in obesity is related to problems in endothelial cells that line these small arteries.

This study identified the cellular mechanisms that increase blood pressure in obesity, and shows that these mechanisms can be targeted for lowering blood pressure.

In the study, researchers found that a protein on the membranes surrounding endothelial cells allows calcium to enter the cells and maintains normal blood pressure.

Obesity, it turns out, affects this protein, called TRPV4, within tiny subsections of the cell membrane.

Obesity, the researchers found, increases the levels of peroxynitrite-making enzymes in the microdomains containing TRPV4.

Peroxynitrite silences TRPV4 and lowers calcium entry into the cells. Without the proper amount of calcium, blood pressure goes up.

The team believes that targeting peroxynitrite or the enzymes that make it could be an effective way to treat and prevent high blood pressure in obesity.

This discovery also may explain why attempts to use antioxidants to lower high blood pressure have not been very effective in clinical trials. This could be due to the lack of specificity of these antioxidants.

The next step would be to design drugs that specifically target peroxynitrite and provide therapeutic benefits.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about a major cause of high blood pressure, and this common plant nutrient could help reduce high blood pressure.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies that black tea may strongly reduce blood pressure, and results showing these high blood pressure drugs may increase heart failure risk.

The study was conducted by Swapnil K. Sonkusare et al and published in the journal Circulation.

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