January 19, 2018

World Health Day Reminder: Food Poisoning Causes Hypertension

Each year, World Health Day, which marks the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO), highlights a public health concern. This year, for WHO’s 65th anniversary, the theme is hypertension, a major cause of heart disease worldwide.

HypertensionBeing overweight, inactive and having a poor diet that consists of too many foods that are highly processed, low in fiber and high in sodium are major risks for developing high blood pressure.  But another, lesser known cause is food poisoning.

High blood pressure is one of several long-term health effects that can develop after a case of food poisoning. For example, between 7 to 12 percent of people who contract E.coli infections develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a severe, sometimes life-threatening complication that can lead to kidney failure, stroke or coma. Hospitalization is required to treat HUS. Treatments include fluid replacement, blood or platelet transfusions, plasma exchange and kidney dialysis. Those who recover from HUS after E.coli will sometimes develop high blood pressure. Children, seniors, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems are most at risk for HUS.

A 2012 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that 30 percent of children who developed HUS after E.coli poisoning had hypertension, kidney problems or neurologic symptoms at their 5-year follow-up appointments.  The study, believed to be the largest to study the long-term effets of HUS, followed 619 pediatric patients who developed HUS after E.coli poisoning. Results prompted its authors to conclude: “Our data strongly suggest that HUS should no longer be viewed as a critical acute disease only.”

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