In this brief review, we summarize the current knowledge on the complex interplay between metabolism, sympathetic activity and hypertension with a focus on sex differences and changes with age in humans. Evidence suggests that in premenopausal women, sex hormones, particularly estrogen exerts a profound cardioprotective effect which may be associated with favorable metabolic profiles, as well as lower sympathetic activity and blood pressure at rest and any given physiological and environmental stimuli compared with men of a similar age. Along this line, premenopausal women seem to be generally protected from obesity-induced metabolic and cardiovascular complications. However, postmenopausal estrogen deprivation during midlife and older age has a detrimental impact on metabolism, may lead to adipose tissue redistribution from the subcutaneous to abdominal area, and augments sympathetic activity. All these changes could contribute significantly to the higher prevalence of hypertension and greater cardiometabolic risk in older women than older men. It is proposed that obesity-related hypertension has a neurogenic component which is characterized by sympathetic overactivity, but the impact of sex and age remains largely unknown. Understanding sex and age-specific differences in obesity and sympathetic neural control of blood pressure is important in the prevention and/or risk reduction of cardiometabolic disorders for both men and women.
- blood pressure
- cardiometabolic risk
- muscle sympathetic nerve activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology