Systemic hypertension and coronary artery disease: The link

Giuseppe Lembo, Carmine Morisco, Francesca Lanni, Emanuele Barbato, Carmine Vecchione, Luigi Fratta, Bruno Trimarco

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A direct, continuous, and independent association between blood pressure values and incidence of coronary artery disease has been well documented. However, the evidence that the reduction of blood pressure alone is not able to completely reverse the increase in the risk of coronary artery disease associated with essential hypertension suggests that the link between hypertension and coronary artery disease is a complex process including other factors beside the increase in blood pressure values. In this regard, the main determinant of coronary artery disease in hypertensive patients seems to be the development of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). In fact, hypertensive patients who died from sudden cardiac death showed a lesser degree of coronary atherosclerosis compared with normotensives, but a higher incidence of LVH. Several mechanisms can account for the increased coronary risk with LVH, including (1) an increase in left ventricular (LV) mass, which by itself requires more oxygen for tissue perfusion; (2) impairment of coronary flow reserve; (3) perivascular fibrosis, which then impairs oxygen supply to the myocardium; and (4) deterioration of LV diastolic function, which hampers myocardial perfusion. Recently, a study reported an impairment of endothelial function and abnormal control of the sympathetic tone in hypertensive patients, which may contribute to the risk of coronary artery disease. In particular, the impaired endothelial function resulting in a prevalence of vasoconstrictive, thrombogenic, and proliferative factors may account for the enhanced ischemic susceptibility of these patients. Furthermore, the cardiac adrenergic system plays an important role in regulating myocardial blood flow. On one hand, hypertensive patients show an exaggerated sympathetic response to physiologic stimuli, whereas on the other hand, the β-adrenergic receptor-mediated vasodilating component of the sympathetic response is blunted in hypertension. Finally, excess body weight, dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance, and hyperinsulinemia, which are frequently interrelated, represent independent predictors of both coronary artery disease and hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number3 A
Publication statusPublished - Aug 6 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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