Vibhu Parcha, M.D., and Pankaj Arora, M.D. (Photos by: Andrea Mabry)

A series of studies recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers describes the reasons behind low levels of natriuretic peptides in obese individuals. NPs are beneficial hormones produced by the heart that are responsible for the regulation of blood pressure and the overall cardiovascular and metabolic health of humans. This study also addresses how the disturbance of an individual’s day-night, or diurnal, rhythm of these hormones contributes to poor cardiovascular health in obese individuals.

Obesity is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure and poor cardiovascular outcomes. High blood pressure at nighttime is seen commonly in obese individuals, which can contribute to outcomes such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and cardiac death. The reasons for the impairment of this day-night blood pressure rhythm are not well understood, but scientists believe that NPs could be a reason behind this. 

“All the hormones in the human body have a day-night rhythm,” said Vibhu Parcha, M.D., a clinical research fellow in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease and the first author of both the studies. “It has been hypothesized the NP hormones should also have this rhythm, but this had not yet been demonstrated in humans. Our clinical trial assessed the 24-hour cycle of the NP hormones and compared it to the 24-hour cycle of blood pressure. We also studied how these cycles differ between lean and obese individuals and studied the reasoning behind why obese individuals experience lower levels of NPs.” 

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