BACKGROUND Hypertension is a major cause of heart failure. Excessive sympathoexcitation in patients with heart failure leads to poor prognosis. Since carotid body denervation (CBD) has been shown to reduce sympathetic nerve activity in animal models of hypertension and heart failure, we examined if bilateral CBD attenuates the progression of hypertensive heart failure and improves survival. METHODS We randomly allocated Dahl salt-sensitive rats fed a high-salt diet from 6 weeks of age into CBD (n = 31) and sham-operation (SHAM; n = 50) groups, and conducted CBD or SHAM at 7 weeks of age. We examined the time course of 24-hour urinary norepinephrine (uNE) excretion, blood pressure (BP) and the percent fractional shortening assessed by echocardiography, and estimated the pressure-natriuresis relationship at 14 weeks of age. Finally, we assessed hemodynamics, histological findings, and survival at 16 weeks of age. RESULTS Compared to SHAM, CBD significantly reduced 24-hour uNE at 12, 14, and 16 weeks of age, shifted the pressure-natriuresis relationship leftward without changing its slope, and attenuated the increase in BP. CBD preserved percent fractional shortening (34.2 ± 1.2 vs. 29.1 ± 1.3%, P < 0.01) and lowered left ventricular end-diastolic pressure (5.0 ± 0.9 vs. 9.0 ± 1.4 mm Hg, P < 0.05). Furthermore, CBD significantly attenuated myocardial hypertrophy (P < 0.01) and fibrosis (P < 0.01). Consequently, CBD markedly improved survival (relative risk reduction: 64.8%). CONCLUSIONS CBD attenuated the progression of hypertension and worsening of heart failure possibly through sympathoinhibition, and markedly improved survival in a rat model of hypertensive heart failure.
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