During moderate cold exposure, cardiovascular-related morbidity and mortality increase disproportionately in hypertensive adults (HTN); however, the mechanisms underlying this association are not well defined. We hypothesized that whole body cold stress would evoke exaggerated increases in blood pressure (BP) and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) in HTN compared with normotensive adults (NTN) and that sympathetic baroreflex function would be altered during cooling in HTN. MSNA (peroneal microneurography) and beat-to-beat BP (Finometer) were measured continuously in 10 NTN (6 men/4 women; age 53 ± 3 yr; resting BP 125 ±3/79 ± 1 mmHg) and 13 HTN (7 men/6 women; age 58 ± 2 yr; resting BP 146 ± 5/88 ± 2 mmHg) during whole body cooling-induced reductions in mean skin temperature (Tsk; waterperfused suit) from 34.0 to 30.5°C. During cooling, the increase in mean arterial pressure was greater in HTN (NTN: Δ6 ± 2 vs. HTN:Δ11 ± 1 mmHg; P = 0.02) and accompanied by exaggerated increases in MSNA (NTN: Δ8 ± 3 vs. HTN: Δ20 ± 3 bursts/100 heart beats; P < 0.01). The slope of the relation between MSNA and diastolic BP did not change during cooling in NTN (Tsk 34.0°C: -4.4 ± 0.8 vs. Tsk 30.5°C: -5.0 ± 0.3 bursts 100 heart beats-1 mmHg-1; P = 0.47) but increased in HTN (Tsk 34.0°C: -3.6 ± 0.4 vs. Tsk 30.5°C: -5.4 ± 0.4 bursts 100 heart beats)-1 mmHg-1; P = 0.02). These findings demonstrate that the cooling-induced increases in BP and MSNA are exaggerated in HTN. Furthermore, during cooling, sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity increases in HTN, but not NTN, presumably to allow for baroreflex-mediated buffering of excessive cooling-induced increases in BP. Collectively, these findings suggest that sympathetic function is altered during whole body cooling in hypertension. NEW & NOTEWORTHY These novel findings demonstrate that whole body cooling-induced reductions in mean skin temperature elicited greater increases in blood pressure and muscle sympathetic nerve activity in hypertensive adults. In addition, during moderate cold exposure, sympathetic baroreflex sensitivity increased in hypertensive, but not normotensive, adults.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)