THE COLD PRESSOR TEST: PHARMACOLOGICAL AND THERAPEUTIC ASPECTS


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Abstract

In this review article we discuss several aspects of the physiology, diagnosis, and pharmacology of the cold pressor test. The cold pressor test has been used for the diagnosis of cardiovascular reactivity in normotensive and hypertensive subjects. Some authors have stated that the cold pressor test will identify normotensive candidates at future risk of suffering from hypertensive disease. Interestingly, not all antihypertensive drugs block the exaggerated pressor response induced by cold stress. The most beneficial compounds belong to the α- and β-blocker groups. Furthermore, several neurohormones such as norepinephrine, endothelins, prostaglandins, and angiotensin II have been reported to be released during cold exposure. The neurophysiology of cold pressor test indicates that after stress a great sympathetic discharge is induced at the spinal cord and terminal endings of the sympathetic nervous system. The release of norepinephrine is the cause of arteriolar vasoconstriction and elevation of blood pressure.

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