Sympathetic activation in cardiovascular disease: evidence, clinical impact and therapeutic implications

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Abstract

Background

The sympathetic nervous exerts a key role in cardiovascular homeostasis control by regulating cardiac output, systemic vascular resistance, heart rate and blood pressure.

Materials and methods

Data collected during the past 30 years have unequivocally shown that in a considerable number of cardiovascular as well as noncardiovascular disease there is a marked activation of the sympathetic nervous system which exerts in the long-term period unfavourable haemodynamic, metabolic, cardiovascular and renal effects.

Results

This paper will review the current knowledge on the alterations in sympathetic function described in cardiovascular disease, with particular focus on hypertension, heart failure and myocardial infarction.

Conclusions

The consequences of the phoenomenon will be discussed together with its therapeutic implications. This will be done by examining the impact of nonpharmacological as well as pharmacological interventions on sympathetic cardiovascular drive. The effects of new invasive approaches, such as carotid baroreceptor stimulation as well as renal nerves ablation, will be also briefly discussed.

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