Cerebral circulation in chronic arterial hypertension.
Several new concepts have emerged recently regarding the effects of chronic hypertension on cerebral blood vessels. First, hypertrophy of large cerebral arteries in chronic hypertension attenuates increases in pressure of downstream vessels and protects the cerebral microvasculature. Second, in contrast to large cerebral arteries, which become less distensible during chronic hypertension, distensibility of cerebral arterioles increases during chronic hypertension despite hypertrophy of the arteriolar wall. Third, dilatation of cerebral blood vessels with disruption of the blood-brain barrier, and not vasospasm, appears to be the critical factor in the pathogenesis of hypertensive encephalopathy. This concept is supported by the finding that cerebral edema in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats is preceded by vasodilatation and disruption of the barrier. Fourth, alterations of endothelium-mediated dilatation may impair vasodilator responses in chronic hypertension and predispose to ischemia. Finally, chronic hypertension impairs dilatation of collateral blood vessels in the cerebral circulation. The implication of this finding is that increased susceptibility to cerebral infarction in chronic hypertension may be related in part to compromised responses of the collateral circulation.
- Copyright © 1988 by American Heart Association