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Researchers Crack How Overfeeding Leads to Increased Blood Pressure

Update Date: Dec 22, 2012 12:26 PM EST

A new study links overfeeding to increased blood pressure stating that it causes a rise in sympathetic nerve activity (SNA), leading to high blood pressure.

The study conducted by researchers at Lehman College, suggests that increased SNA (part of the fight or flight reflex) can lead to the development of high blood pressure.

Even though for many years it has been known that obesity and weight gain are major contributors of high blood pressure, scientists have not been able to determine how exactly happens.

In this study, Dr. Martin Muntzel lead researcher, a professor in the College's Department of Biology and an expert on diet, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, and his team implanted radiotelemetry devises into fourteen female Wistar rats to monitor SNA, heart rate and arterial pressure, medical Xpress reported.

For a span of one week, the researchers fed seven of the rats a high-fat diet inclusive of vanilla wafers, crackers, buttered popcorn, cheetos and other high-caloric nutrients, while they fed seven other rats a low-fat diet.

The researchers could get the results almost immediately. The rats, which were fed high fat diet, gained weight in fifteen days, their fat mass doubled, activating lumbar SNA, and they had increased heart rate and blood pressure.

"One thing that really surprised me through the course of this experiment is that just two weeks of consuming junk food doubled the subject's fat mass," says Dr. Muntzel.

"None of this would have been possible had we not been able to attain the radiotelemetry technology," explains Dr. Muntzel.

Telemetry-based devices especially the ones that can record SNA, have been in use for only four years.

"There are a number of researchers from around the world that are using this, but our group was the first to actually make it work in rats," he adds proudly.

The study was recently published in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

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