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J Physiol Sci. 2009 Mar;59(2):105-12. doi: 10.1007/s12576-008-0015-5. Epub 2008 Dec 26.

Hemodynamic determinants of chronic hypotension and their modification through vasopressor application.

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Department Psychologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Leopoldstr. 13, 80802, Munich, Germany.


Chronic low blood pressure is typically accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, reduced drive, dizziness, headaches and cold limbs. Reduced cognitive performance, diminished cerebral blood flow and autonomic dysregulation have been furthermore documented in this condition. The present contribution reports two studies exploring systemic hemodynamics in chronic hypotension and their modification through vasopressor application. In study I, effects of the alpha-sympathomimetic midodrine were examined in 54 hypotensive individuals using a placebo-controlled double-blind design. Hemodynamic parameters were assessed at rest and during mental stress. They were derived from continuous blood pressure recordings using Modelflow analysis. The drug led to marked increases in blood pressure, total peripheral resistance and stroke volume. However, due to strong heart rate deceleration, cardiac output remained virtually unchanged. In study II, 40 hypotensive and 40 normotensive control persons were compared with respect to hemodynamics. While groups did not differ in total peripheral resistance, hypotensives exhibited markedly diminished stroke volume and heart rate, resulting in a reduction in cardiac output of 25% at rest and of 33% during mental stress. The data provide relevant knowledge about the hemodynamic mediation of chronic hypotension. In contrast to elevated blood pressure, which is mainly determined by increased peripheral resistance, reduced cardiac output may be the cardinal hemodynamic aberration in chronic hypotension. Midodrine proved to be effective in elevating blood pressure. However, given the cardiac origin of chronic hypotension and the lack of drug effect on cardiac output, alpha-sympathomimetic treatment may be suboptimal.

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