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N Engl J Med. 1976 Jan 8;294(2):80-4.

Psychotherapeutic control of hypertension.


We conducted a six-month trial to determine the effect of psychologic relaxation on blood pressure. Alterations of peripheral sympathetic-nervous-system activity, as reflected by changes of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase in plasma, were evaluated, and plasma volume and plasma renin activity were measured. Treated patients exhibited significant (P less than 0.05) reductions of blood pressure when supine and upright, and of plasma dopamine-beta-hydroxylase activity, and furosemide-stimulated renin activity when upright. Blood-pressure changes after six months correlated best with differences in plasma activity of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase with patients supine (r = 0.54; P less than 0.05) and upright (r = 0.62; P less than 0.05). These results suggest that reduction of peripheral adrenergic activity contributes importantly to the improvement of hypertension observed with this form of therapy. Furthermore, the decrease of furosemide-stimulated plasma renin activity suggests that alterations of the renin-angiotensin system may help lower blood pressure in certain patients.

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