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Circulation. 1983 Aug;68(2):234-40.

Arterial baroreflex sensitivity, plasma catecholamines, and pressor responsiveness in essential hypertension.


Arterial baroreflex sensitivity, plasma norepinephrine (NE) and epinephrine (E), and pressor and depressor responses were assessed in 25 patients with essential hypertension and 29 normotensive control subjects. Sensitivity of the cardiac limb of the baroreflex was determined by blood pressure and interbeat interval responses associated with the Valsalva maneuver, externally applied neck suction and pressure, and injection of phenylephrine and nitroglycerin. By all these techniques, patients with essential hypertension had significantly decreased baroreflex sensitivity, even after adjustment for age mismatching between the hypertensive and normotensive groups. Hypertensive patients also had significantly higher mean levels of plasma NE and E in both brachial arterial and antecubital venous blood (246 vs 154 pg/ml arterial NE, 286 vs 184 pg/ml venous NE, 99 vs 55 pg/ml arterial E, and 65 vs 35 pg/ml venous E) and significantly larger pressor responses to injected phenylephrine (30.9 mm Hg/100 micrograms vs 16.7 mm Hg/100 micrograms). When baroreflex-cardiac sensitivity values measured by the various techniques were averaged, there was a significant inverse relationship between sensitivity and venous NE and between sensitivity and pressor responsiveness. The results indicate that decreased baroreflex-cardiac sensitivity, increased sympathetic outflow, and pressor hyperresponsiveness tend to occur together in some patients with essential hypertension. Decreased arterial distensibility and altered central neural integration can account for these findings.

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