Effects of Dietary Fish and Weight Reduction on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in Overweight Hypertensives

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Abstract

Obesity is a major factor contributing to hypertension and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular consumption of dietary fish and omega 3 fatty acids of marine origin can lower blood pressure (BP) levels and reduce cardiovascular risk. This study examined the potential effects of combining dietary fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids with a weight loss regimen in overweight hypertensive subjects, with ambulatory BP levels as the primary end point. Using a factorial design, 69 overweight medication-treated hypertensives were randomized to a daily fish meal (3.65 g omega 3 fatty acids), weight reduction, the 2 regimens combined, or a control regimen for 16 weeks. Sixty-three subjects with a mean +/- SEM body mass index of 31.6 +/- 0.5 kg/m2 completed the study. Weight fell by 5.6 +/- 0.8 kg with energy restriction. Dietary fish and weight loss had significant independent and additive effects on 24-hour ambulatory BP. Effects were greatest on awake systolic and diastolic BP (P<0.01); relative to control, awake pressures fell 6.0/3.0 mm Hg with dietary fish alone, 5.5/2.2 mm Hg with weight reduction alone, and 13.0/9.3 mm Hg with fish and weight loss combined. These results also remained significant after further adjustment for changes in urinary sodium, potassium, or the sodium/potassium ratio, as well as dietary macronutrients. Dietary fish also significantly reduced 24-hour (-3.1 +/- 1.4 bpm, P=0.036) and awake (-4.2 +/- 1.6 bpm, P=0.013) ambulatory heart rates. Weight reduction had a significant effect on sleeping heart rate only (-3.2 +/- 1.7 bpm, P=0.037). Combining a daily fish meal with a weight-reducing regimen led to additive effects on ambulatory BP and decreased heart rate. The effects were large, suggesting that cardiovascular risk and antihypertensive drug requirements are likely to be reduced substantially by combining dietary fish meals rich in omega 3 fatty acids with weight-loss regimens in overweight medication-treated hypertensives. The reduction in heart rate seen with dietary fish suggests a cardiac/autonomic component, as well as vascular effects, of increased consumption of omega 3 fatty acid from fish. (Hypertension. 1998;32:710-717.)

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