Blood pressure is constantly and carefully regulated to maintain perfusion of organs and tissues under different conditions. Since the beginning of this century, many mechanisms have been discovered which detect and maintain tissue blood flow and arterial pressure at levels that are optimal for survival during conditions ranging from sleep to exercise. The complexity and the number of the control systems results in a large number of opportunities for dysregulation, which may cause a temporary or sustained uncontrolled rise in blood pressure. Yet, in a majority of hypertensive subjects the cause is still unknown and hypertension is therefore called essential or primary. The pathogenesis of primary hypertension is generally accepted to be based on genetic as well as enviromnental factors and the interaction of genetic susceptibility with environmental factors. Evidence for influences of environmental factors can be found in the relation of blood pressure with diet, obesity, fitness and behavioral stress.

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D.E. Grobbee (Diederick)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Netherlands Heart Foundation, Rotterdam Medical Research Foundation (ROMERES)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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