, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 206-211
Date: 15 May 2009

The role of the sympathetic nervous system in obesity-related hypertension

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Obesity is recognized as a major health problem throughout the world. Excess weight is a major cause of increased blood pressure in most patients with essential hypertension and greatly increases the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and end-stage renal disease. Although the mechanisms by which obesity raises blood pressure are not completely understood, increased renal sodium reabsorption, impaired pressure natriuresis, and volume expansion appear to play important roles. Several potential mechanisms have been suggested to contribute to altered kidney function and hypertension in obesity, including activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, as well as physical compression of the kidneys, especially when visceral obesity is present. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system in obesity may be due, in part, to hyperleptinemia and other factors secreted by adipocytes and the gastrointestinal tract, activation of the central nervous system melanocortin pathway, and baroreceptor dysfunction.