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Hypertension induces considerable cardiac remodelling, such as hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis, and abnormal activity of the cardiac sympathetic nervous system, which are established risk factors in several highly dangerous heart diseases, such as ventricular fibrillation and congestive heart failure. All these risk factors and heart diseases are studied extensively in isolation, but to our knowledge, there is no comprehensive review of their interactions. At the same time, there is growing evidence suggesting that such interactions are numerous and that a successful therapy against a particular condition may have unexpectedly weak effects on mortality, as treated patients may die of a different cause exacerbated by the therapy. In this article, we present a multiscale review of the literature focusing on the relationships between the above-mentioned risk factors and heart diseases, and introduce a framework that gives insight into their possible interactions. We use this framework to demonstrate that conditions such as fibrosis and elevated activity of the sympathetic nervous system may be compensatory, rather than purely pathological, mechanisms in certain contexts. Finally, we show why the described mechanisms are relevant not only in hypertension, but also in the case of healed myocardial infarction.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





4027 - 4036


arrhythmia, extracellular matrix, heart failure, hypertension, Animals, Heart, Heart Failure, Humans, Hypertension, Myocardial Infarction, Risk Factors, Sympathetic Nervous System, Ventricular Remodeling