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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1988 Summer;12(2):111-22.

Behavioral performance effects of antihypertensive drugs: human and animal studies.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Antihypertensive drug treatments have been reported in clinical investigations to produce adverse effects to a degree that causes hypertensive patients to discontinue medication. Many of the debilitating effects reported by patients appear to be of central nervous system origin, such as sedation, fatigue, memory loss and sensorimotor disturbances. Human and animal laboratory studies in the past two decades have been characterizing the psychotropic effects of antihypertensive medications with use of a wide range of behavioral techniques. Antihypertensive drug classes covered in this review are beta-adrenergic blocking agents, alpha-adrenergic agonists, diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. While findings in animal studies show generally greater behavioral impairments after administration of alpha-adrenergic agonists in comparison with other drug classes, the few laboratory studies conducted with hypertensive subjects present a confusing picture. A need for further laboratory research with hypertensive subjects and, study of antihypertensive drug combinations is discussed.

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