Obesity-related hypertension: a review of pathophysiology, management, and the role of metabolic surgery

Omair A. Shariq, Travis J. McKenzie


Obesity is a significant public health challenge worldwide and is inextricably linked to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. The relationship between excess adiposity and increased blood pressure is well established, and it is estimated that obesity accounts for 65–78% of cases of primary hypertension. The mechanisms through which obesity causes hypertension are complex and include sympathetic nervous system overactivation, stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, alterations in adipose- derived cytokines, insulin resistance, and structural and functional renal changes. Weight loss is the primary goal of treatment for obesity-related hypertension, although few individuals achieve success with nonpharmacological management alone. Specific considerations apply when selecting the most appropriate pharmacological therapy for obese hypertensive patients. Metabolic surgery has proved to be the most effective means of ensuring substantial and sustained weight loss and has also been shown to confer beneficial effects in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Increasing evidence suggests that metabolic surgery may also be an effective treatment for obesity-related hypertension, although prospective data on long-term blood pressure outcomes are awaited. This review will discuss the pathophysiological mechanisms that link obesity with hypertension and will provide an overview of treatment strategies, with a focus on metabolic surgery.