A positive family history of hypertension (+FH) is a risk factor for the future development of hypertension. Hypertension is associated with reductions in baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). Therefore, we hypothesized that young women with a +FH [n = 12, 22 ± 1 yr, body mass index (BMI) 21 ± 1 kg/m 2 , mean arterial pressure (MAP) 79 ± 1 mmHg] would have lower BRS compared with young women without a family history of hypertension (-FH) (n = 13, 22 ± 1 yr, BMI 21 ± 1 kg/m 2 , MAP 77 ± 2 mmHg, all P > 0.05 between groups). Continuous measurements of muscle sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram derived R-R interval were recorded at rest and during a Valsalva maneuver. Both cardiovagal BRS and vascular sympathetic BRS were assessed. Resting cardiovagal BRS was reduced in the +FH women (all sequences:-FH 32.3 ± 3.7 vs. +FH 20.2 ± 2.9 ms/mmHg, P = 0.02). Cardiovagal BRS during phase IV (-FH 16.5 ± 2.7 vs. +FH 7.6 ± 1.3 ms/mmHg, P < 0.01) but not phase II (-FH 5.5 ± 0.9 vs. +FH 5.0 ± 0.8 ms/mmHg, P = 0.67) of the Valsalva maneuver was also lower in the +FH women. Vascular sympathetic BRS at rest (-FH-2.38 ± 0.7 vs. +FH-2.33 ± 0.3 bursts· min -1 · mmHg -1 , P = 0.58) and during the Valsalva (-FH-0.74 ± 0.23 vs. +FH-0.66 ± 0.18 bursts·15 s -1 ·mmHg -1 , P = 0.79) were not different between groups. These data suggest that healthy young women with a positive family history of hypertension have reduced cardiovagal BRS. This may be one mechanism contributing to the increased incidence of hypertension in this population later in life. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Having a family history of hypertension increases the risk of developing future hypertension. Reductions in baroreflex function have been demonstrated in hypertension and are an important marker for future cardiovascular disease. We show that young women with a family history of hypertension have lower cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity. This alteration in autonomic function may be one mechanism contributing to the future incidence of hypertension in this patient population.
- Baroreflex sensitivity
- Blood pressure
- Muscle sympathetic nerve activity