Obesity and the sympathetic nervous system.

G. Grassi, B. M. Cattaneo, G. Seravalle, M. Colombo, F. Cavagnini, G. Mancia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several epidemiological studies have shown that obesity represents an independent risk factor for development of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, myocardial ischaemia, and cardiac arrhythmias. Although the metabolic and the haemodynamic alterations occurring in the obese state have been well defined for several years, our knowledge on the sympathetic alterations occurring in this condition is more scarce and controversial. This paper reviews the evidence that human obesity is characterized by abnormalities in sympathetic cardiovascular control, in the light of the results of recent studies performed by employing a sensitive technique to assess sympathetic activity in humans, i.e. microneurography. Evidence is provided that sympathetic overactivity is a common hallmark of the obese state, even when blood pressure levels are within the normal range. It will also discuss the potential mechanisms responsible for this sympathetic activation, suggesting that overweight-related metabolic alterations, such as the insulin resistance state, and abnormalities in sympathetic cardiovascular control exerted by arterial baroreceptors may play a pathogenetic role. Finally, the effects of body weight reduction on the sympathetic overactivity which characterizes the obese state will also be examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-46
Number of pages4
JournalBlood Pressure, Supplement
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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