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Serum cholesterol affects blood pressure regulation


A close relationship between abnormalities of the lipid metabolism and arterial hypertension has been observed in several epidemiological studies. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether serum cholesterol might affect blood pressure (BP) levels at rest, during ambulatory monitoring or during sympathetic stimulation—independently of other variables such as body weight or serum insulin—thus influencing the outcome of hypertensive complications. Seventy-three patients with sustained newly-discovered and never-treated hypertension were divided into tertiles according to their serum cholesterol levels and their resting BP, 24-h BP and BP during isometric exercise (handgrip) were compared. Cardiac mass and carotid wall thickness were measured by echographic technique. The results were that tertiles were similar for body weight, blood glucose and serum insulin, but different for serum cholesterol and triglycerides. BP at rest and during 24-h monitoring was similar in the three groups, whilst a significant difference was detected during sympathetic stimulation by handgrip, with systolic and diastolic BP increasing by 16/12, 28/19 and 30/23 mm Hg (P < 0.01) in lower, medium and higher tertiles, respectively. Intima-media layer of the carotid arteries was also significantly thickened in the groups with higher cholesterol levels (0.54 ± 0.07, 0.67 ± 0.14, 0.68 ± 0.15, P < 0.05). These data support the conclusion that even in patients with recently discovered hypertension, cholesterol levels may influence the BP response to adrenergic stimulation as well as the outcome of target organ disease.

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The authors are grateful to Mrs Rosanna Scala for her linguistic revision.

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Correspondence to L A Ferrara.

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Ferrara, L., Guida, L., Iannuzzi, R. et al. Serum cholesterol affects blood pressure regulation. J Hum Hypertens 16, 337–343 (2002).

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  • serum cholesterol
  • blood pressure
  • handgrip
  • endothelium function

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