The new research review doesn't change any of that. The reviewers aren't suggesting taking weight loss pills instead of making lifestyle changes.
The reviewers, who included Karl Horvath, MD, of Austria's Medical University of Graz, analyzed data from 15 weight loss studies of adult hypertension patients. Here's a quick look at their findings.
Diet and High Blood Pressure
Seven of the reviewed studies focused on diet, not drugs.
Together, the studies included 1,632 patients. Some patients were assigned to go on weight loss diets. For comparison, others didn't change their eating habits.
The studies lasted for at least six months. During that time, the dieters shed 9 pounds more than those who kept their diets.
The dieters also trimmed 6 extra points off their systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) and about 3 extra points off their diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure reading), compared with those who didn't diet.
Weight Loss Drugs and High Blood Pressure
The review also included eight studies of the weight loss drugs orlistat, sold under the brand name Xenical, and sibutramine or Meridia.
Orlistat is also the active ingredient in the over-the-counter weight loss drug Alli. But the reviewed studies used Xenical's prescription dose, not Alli's dose.
The studies, which lasted for at least six months, together included 3,132 patients who took Xenical or a placebo and 610 patients who took Meridia or a placebo.
In most of those studies, the patients also got advice about diet and physical activity.
Patients taking Xenical or Meridia lost 8.2 more pounds, on average, than those taking the placebos.
Compared with placebo, Xenical was linked to an average systolic blood pressure improvement of 2.5 points and an average diastolic blood pressure improvement of 2 points.
But Meridia users had an average increase of about 3 points in their systolic blood pressure, compared with placebo. "Although [Meridia] treatment reduced body weight, it did not lower or might even elevate blood pressure," write Horvath and colleagues.
Meridia is already known to "substantially increase blood pressure or heart rate in some patients and should not be given to patients with uncontrolled or poorly controlled hypertension," states Meridia's web site.
Xenical is made by Roche Laboratories; Meridia is made by Abbott Laboratories.
Writing in today's edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the reviewers note that several of the studies weren't of top-notch quality.