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Hypertension. 1992 Jun;19(6 Pt 1):555-61.

Repetitive, episodic hypoxia causes diurnal elevation of blood pressure in rats.

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Institute for High Blood Pressure Research, Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg, FRG.


An association between chronic high blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea has been described. We hypothesized that repetitive episodic hypoxia patterned after the hypoxia seen in sleep apnea could contribute to diurnal elevation of blood pressure. Using 12-second infusions of nitrogen into daytime sleeping chambers, four groups of male rats (250-375 g) were subjected to intermittent hypoxia (3-5% nadir ambient oxygen) every 30 seconds, 7 hours per day for up to 35 days. In one group, blood pressure was measured weekly by the tail-cuff method in conscious animals during 5 weeks of episodic hypoxia. In the other three groups, blood pressure was measured in conscious animals via femoral artery catheters at baseline and after 20, 30, or 35 days of exposure. Additional groups served as controls: two sham groups housed in identical "hypoxia" chambers received compressed air instead of nitrogen (35 days) while two other groups remained unhandled in their usual cages (35 days). Both groups challenged with 35 days episodic hypoxia showed significant increases in blood pressure compared with controls: the tail-cuff rats showed a 21 mm Hg increase in systolic pressure (p less than 0.05) and the intra-arterially measured rats a 13.7 mm Hg increase in mean arterial pressure (p less than 0.05). The 30-day exposed rats also showed a 5.7 mm Hg increase in mean pressure over baseline (p less than 0.05). Blood pressure did not change significantly from baseline in the control groups. Left ventricle-to-body weight ratio was higher in both 35-day exposed groups than in unhandled or sham controls.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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