The risk factors for hypertension are only partly known, and accounts for the some of the deficiencies in current primary prevention strategies and in the design of new drugs for the management of this common condition. Recently, chronic low grade low-grade inflammation has been identified as an integral part in the pathogenesis of vascular disease. Of note, inflammation may also be implicated in the development of hypertension, either as a primary or secondary event. Indeed, several clinical studies have demonstrated increased numbers of well recognised pro-inflammatory markers, such as high sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP), in patients with hypertension, even after adjustment for potential confounding factors. Furthermore, elevated hsCRP levels have also been shown to be predictive for the development of hypertension in prehypertensive and normotensive patients. Pathophysiologically, inflammation has been implicated in both endothelial (dys)function and arterial stiffness in hypertension, with reduced availability of nitric oxide (NO) being integral to this process. Oxidative stress also appears to be a key feature in the reduced availability of NO and is aggravated by increased circulating angiotensin II (Ang II). Importantly, there is some evidence that drugs commonly used in the management of hypertension, such as statins, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and Ang II receptor blockers have anti-inflammatory properties that can positively influence outcomes in patients with hypertension. The inflammatory state in hypertension may pose a new therapeutic target for future drug design.
Keywords: endothelium, C-reactive protein, inflammation, inflammatory markers, Hypertension
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