Psychological stress elicits increases in sympathetic activity accompanied by a marked cardiovascular response. Revealing the relevant central mechanisms involved in this phenomenon could contribute significantly to our understanding of the pathogenesis of stress-related cardiovascular diseases, and the key to this understanding is the identification of the nuclei, pathways and neurotransmitters involved in the organization of the cardiovascular response to stress. The present review will focus specifically on the dorsomedial hypothalamus, a brain region now known to play a primary role in the synaptic integration underlying the cardiovascular response to emotional stress.
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