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The potential anti-inflammatory benefits of improving physical fitness in hypertension

Edwards, Kate Ma; Ziegler, Michael Gb; Mills, Paul Ja

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e328165ca67

Hypertension is associated with an increased risk of stroke and atherosclerosis. In addition to elevated blood pressure, hypertension is characterized by neuroendocrine and immune activation, including elevated levels of C-reactive protein, inflammatory cytokines, and soluble adhesion molecules, which are predictive of morbidity and mortality outcomes. Pharmacological treatment for hypertension reduces blood pressure, but has limited effectiveness in reducing the accompanying inflammation and its associated morbidity and mortality. Exercise and diet interventions regularly show reductions in blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Similar interventions in other populations show reductions in many inflammatory markers, but these effects have not been routinely examined in hypertensive individuals. The mechanisms through which exercise might exert an anti-inflammatory action include the sympathetic nervous system, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, as well as direct effects of blood pressure. Here, exercise is promoted as a potentially effective treatment for both the elevated blood pressure and chronic inflammation found in hypertension.

aDepartments of Psychiatry, USA

bMedicine, UCSD Medical Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA

Received 9 December, 2006

Revised 6 February, 2007

Accepted 12 March, 2007

Correspondence to Kate Edwards, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0804, USA Tel: +1 619 543 5831; fax: +1 619 543 7519; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.