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Obesity and blood pressure

(Augusta, GA) The number of overweight Americans has reached record levels, and obesity now affects almost one in three citizens. Published findings from the 1999-2000 report of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the definitive measure for weight matters in the United States, show that 59 million (31 percent) of adults are obese. One third of adult women are obese (33 percent), a rate slightly above men (28 percent). While there is little difference in obesity rates among men across racial/ethic lines, obesity rates for African-American, Mexican-American and white female are 50, 40 and 30 percent, respectively.

One reason obesity is considered a serious health problem is because it is an important factor for essential hypertension (high blood pressure with no identifiable cause). The exact mechanisms for obesity to cause essential hypertension are not fully understood, but it has been linked to the kidneys. These organs play a key role in regulating blood pressure and other substances which affect renal salt and water excretion, are important modulators of hypertension.

A New Study

One fatty acid -- arachidonic acid is an endogenous fatty acid containing 20 carbons and 4 double bonds. It can be metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes into different metabolites ("eicosanoids") in the kidneys. These eicosanoids have been shown to cause constriction or dilation of the blood vessels and affect the ion transport in the nephron, the basic unit of the kidneys. Based on the functions of these eicosanoids, a team of researchers has hypothesized that the synthesis of these substances is affected during obesity and that the substances are involved in the regulation of renal function and blood pressure in obesity.

The researchers are Mong-Heng Wang, Anita Smith, Yiqiang Zhou, Hsin-Hsin Chang, Songbai Lin, and Anne M. Dorrance, all of the Department of Physiology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA.
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
30-Sep-2003


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