Essential hypertension: abnormal renal vascular and endocrine responses to a mild psychological stimulus.
We have assessed the influence of a mild emotional stimulus on arterial blood pressure, heart rate, renal blood flow, plasma renin activity (PRA), and plasma aldosterone concentration in 24 normal subjects, eight of who had a parent with hypertension, and in 15 patients with essential hypertension. A nonverbal IQ test, Raven's Progressive Matrices, was employed as the stimulus. In 11 of the 15 hypertensives, arterial blood pressure rose transiently by 7 mm Hg or more, but in only three of 16 normal subjects (x2 = 7.23, p less than 0.01). Transient moderate increases in heart rate were also more common in the hypertensives (p less than 0.01). Renal blood flow rose in 11 of 16 normal subjects and fell in each of the 15 patients with essential hypertension (x2 = 15.1; p less than 0.005). As opposed to the transient changes in arterial pressure and heart rate, the fall in renal perfusion was sustained. The PRA fell in 10 of the 16 normal subjects with a negative family history and rose in 14 of 15 patients with essential hypertension (p less than 0.005). Changes in plasma angiotensin II concentration and in plasma aldosterone were in accord with the changes in PRA, but plasma cortisol did not change. Both the renal vascular response and the change in PRA were intermediate in normal subjects in whom family history was positive for hypertension. For the entire group of 39 subjects there was statistically significant agreement between the direction of the renal vascular response and the directional change in PRA: renal blood flow rose when PRA fell and fell when PRA rose (p less than 0.005). We conclude that there is an abnormality in the control of both the renal circulation and of renin release in patients with essential hypertension in response to psychological provocation, and that a similar process is present in some normotensive subjects whose parents have hypertension.
- Copyright © 1981 by American Heart Association