Are Renal Hemodynamics a Key Factor in the Development and Maintenance of Arterial Hypertension in Humans?

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The kidney plays a key role in the control of body fluids and blood pressure. Evidence has shown that impairment of renal function can lead to the development of arterial hypertension. The regulation of renal blood flow appears to be a key element in the pathophysiology of the hypertensive process, because multiple evidence suggests the existence of a functional enhancement of renal vascular tone in this disorder. The existence of renal vasoconstriction and of an inherited defect in the regulation of renal blood flow has been proposed in the prehypertensive stage. The mechanisms responsible for this alteration include a lack of modulation of the renal vasculature to angiotensin II, increased sympathetic activity, or suppressed renal dopaminergic activity. Established hypertension is characterized by elevated renal vascular resistance, decreased renal blood flow, sustained glomerular filtration rate, and increased filtration fraction. The increase in renal vascular resistance is initially due to elevations in renal vascular tone and is reversible, whereas later it becomes irreversible because of structural changes involved in nephrosclerosis. Antihypertensive drugs are able to decrease blood pressure and to prevent the development of further renal vascular damage independently of variable effects on renal hemodynamics.

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