Understanding the aetiology of hypertension
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It is known that sympathetic nerve activity is elevated in people with established hypertension. The work of S. Julius also proposes that a signature of elevated sympathetic activity is present in people as young as 5 years of age who subsequently develop hypertension in the middle age. Using a genetic model of hypertension, the Spontaneously Hypertensive rat, we demonstrated that sympathetic activity is elevated in very young animals – well before the development of hypertension (Simms A.E…..Allen A.M. Amplified respiratory-sympathetic coupling in the spontaneously hypertensive rat: does it contribute to hypertension? J Physiol 2009; 587: 597-610). This elevated activity is driven by the neural pathways that generate breathing activity and is termed central respiratory-sympathetic coupling. We are examining the pathways in the brain responsible for this altered respiratory-sympathetic coupling and attempting to determine whether this mechanism is a cause of hypertension in some people.
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