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Independents' Day

Blood pressure falls 1mmHg for every 1kg of weight loss

By Emma Wilkinson

GPs can use the results of a new meta-analysis to tell patients with borderline hypertension that their blood pressure is likely to drop by 1mmHg for every 1kg of weight they lose.

Experts said the findings ­ flagged up in the latest edition of evidence-based journal Bandolier ­ would help GPs meet quality targets in the new contract by enabling them to quantify the potential effects of weight loss to hypertensive patients.

The importance of weight loss and lifestyle changes will be reinforced in National

Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines due this spring.

Professor Bryan Williams, chair of the British Hypertension Society who is involved in drawing up the NICE guidelines on hypertension, said weight loss could be very beneficial and the guidance would put 'particular' emphasis on lifestyle change.

But he stressed advice should also be given on salt intake, smoking and exercise.

The meta-analysis, published in Hypertension, showed both systolic and diastolic blood pressure fell by about 1mmHg for every 1kg of weight lost.

Researchers in the Netherlands pooled data from 4,874 men and women who took part in 25 trials. Half had blood pressure higher than 140/90mmHg. The overall mean BMI was 31kg/m2.

The relationship between weight loss and blood pressure was not dependent on initial BMI, amount of weight lost, method of weight loss, initial blood pressure or age.

Dr Mike Kirby, a GP in Hertfordshire with a special interest in coronary heart disease, said the findings could help GPs keep thousands of borderline hypertensives off medication and help control prescribing costs.

'Weight loss is an important message,' he said.

The study is 'common sense', commented an article in Bandolier, and 'good news for those of a certain age when weight tends to be a bit on the high side and blood pressure a bit borderline'.

Bandolier concluded that there is a choice for patients with borderline hypertension ­ 'lose weight and exercise and feel younger and better, or take tablets that might make you feel dreadful'.

GPs can earn up to 105 points for managing hypertension under the quality framework.

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