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Curr Hypertens Rep. 2003 Jun;5(3):269-72.

The role of the sympathetic nervous system in linking obesity with hypertension in white versus black Americans.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 16111 Plummer Street, Sepulveda, CA 91343, USA.


Several previous studies confirmed that obesity is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension. A large number of clinical studies considered the role of the sympathetic nervous system in linking obesity with hypertension, and there is substantial evidence that human obesity is characterized by defects in sympathetic cardiovascular control. The association of obesity with hypertension has been well documented in most racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Ethnicity may be an important factor to consider since sympathetic nervous system activity, and the propensity for obesity and hypertension, all differ substantially among different populations. Obesity is actually accompanied by increased sympathetic nerve discharge to skeletal muscles, a main site for energy expenditure. Adiposity-related sympathetic overactivity is a compensatory mechanism to burn fat and decrease weight gain, but at the cost of increased sympathetic discharge to the peripheral vasculature, which could predispose to hypertension. Thus, sympathetic nervous system activity is important in the development and maintenance of obesity-related hypertension in different racial and ethnic populations, including white and black Americans.

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