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J Hypertens. 2003 Feb;21(2):371-8.

Weight loss and weight maintenance, ambulatory blood pressure and cardiac autonomic tone in obese persons with the metabolic syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.



Cardiac autonomic function may play a role in obesity-associated hypertension. Most studies on the effects of weight loss on blood pressure and autonomic function do not distinguish between acute or continuing weight loss and steady-state weight maintenance after weight loss.


We sought to clarify the changes in ambulatory blood pressure, heart rate and heart rate variability as assessed by spectral analysis during rapid weight loss and extended weight maintenance.


Abdominally obese (body mass index 35.2 +/- 2.1 kg/m2, waist 114.3 +/- 9.0 cm) men and women (n = 41) with the metabolic syndrome.


The 34 men and women completing the 1-year weight maintenance period lost 14.6 +/- 3.5 kg during the 9-week very-low-calorie diet and maintained a 12.5 +/- 7.5 kg weight loss to the end of the trial. Ambulatory 24-h blood pressure decreased dramatically during the diet (-9.0 +/- 8.0/-4.6 +/- 4.9 mmHg), but had risen to near baseline levels by the end of weight maintenance (-2.2 +/- 8.2 /-1.2 +/- 6.1 mmHg). Night-time heart rate decreased (-5.5 +/- 9.6 beats/min, P = 0.012), and heart rate variability total and low-frequency power measured during 5 min of controlled breathing increased by 46-56% (P = 0.003-0.09) during rapid weight loss. These changes gradually attenuated during weight maintenance, and only the change in night-time heart rate was still of borderline significance after 1 year of weight maintenance (-3.6 +/- 8.6 beats/min, P = 0.063). Heart rate variability high-frequency power tended to increase during weight loss and weight maintenance.


Despite successful weight maintenance, the decrease in ambulatory blood pressure after rapid weight loss was largely transient. The increase in parasympathetic tone was more sustained, but also gradually attenuated during 1 year of weight maintenance.

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