Ethanol-induced hypertension involves impairment of baroreceptors.
We studied the effect of 12 weeks of ethanol feeding on arterial blood pressure and baroceptor reflex control of heart rate in Sprague-Dawley and Wistar rats. Baroceptor reflex sensitivity and pressor responsiveness were evaluated by evoking graded rises in mean arterial pressure with increasing doses of phenylephrine and angiotensin II. After 12 weeks of ethanol feeding there was a modest increase in mean arterial pressure with no change in heart rate in both strains. When angiotensin II or phenylephrine was used as the pressor agent, baroreceptor reflex curves (relationships between changes in mean arterial pressure and heart rate) of Wistar rats were shifted upward and had a markedly reduced slope compared with those of control rats, suggesting that impairment of baroreceptor reflex control of heart rate had occurred. This effect was less evident in the Sprague-Dawley rats. Ethanol-fed rats had a higher sympathetic activity, since beta-blockade with propranolol decreased heart rate to a greater degree than that seen in control rats. The pressor response curve of phenylephrine was shifted to the right in control rats challenged with ethanol (0.5 g/kg), implying the presence of alpha-blockade. This shift was not present in ethanol-fed rats, showing that tolerance had developed to this effect of ethanol. These findings show that attenuation of baroreceptor reflex function is associated with ethanol-induced hypertension but do not establish whether this is a cause or an effect of the developed hypertension.
- Copyright © 1987 by American Heart Association