During both dynamic (e.g. endurance) and static (e.g. strength) exercise there are exaggerated cardiovascular responses in hypertension. This includes greater increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and efferent sympathetic nerve activity than in normals. Two of the known neural factors which contribute to this abnormal cardiovascular response are the exercise pressor reflex (EPR) and functional sympatholysis. The EPR originates in contracting skeletal muscle and reflexly increases sympathetic efferent nerve activity to the heart and blood vessels as well as decreases parasympathetic efferent nerve activity to the heart. These changes in autonomic nerve activity cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, left ventricular contractility, and vasoconstriction in the arterial tree. However, arterial vessels in the contracting skeletal muscle have a markedly diminished vasoconstrictor response. The markedly diminished vasoconstriction in contracting skeletal muscle has been termed functional sympatholysis. It has been shown in hypertension that there is an enhanced EPR, including both its mechanoreflex and metaboreflex components, and an impaired functional sympatholysis. These conditions set up a positive feedback or vicious cycle situation which causes a progressively greater decrease in the blood flow to the exercising muscle. Thus, these two neural mechanisms contribute significantly to the abnormal cardiovascular response to exercise in hypertension. In addition, exercise training in hypertension decreases the enhanced EPR, including both mechanoreflex and metaboreflex function, and improves the impaired functional sympatholysis. These two changes, caused by exercise training, improve the muscle blood flow to exercising muscle and cause a more normal cardiovascular response to exercise in hypertension.
- exercise response
- exercise pressor reflex
- functional sympatholysis
- exercise training
- Copyright © 2017, American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology