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The aim of the present study was to further validate our method for the determination of minimal forearm vascular resistance after ischemia (13min arterial occlusion and 1 min hand exercise) in patients with hypertension. This parameter, calculated as the ratio of mean blood pressure (intra-arterial recordings on the experimental side) to forearm blood flow (strain-gauge venous plethysmography), was measured basally and after either increasing (through unrelated vasodilators such as sodium nitroprusside or the calcium antagonist nicardipine in six mild-to-moderate uncomplicated hypertensives) or decreasing (norepinephrine, n=4) flow without changes in systemic pressure. In spite of the divergent starting flow values, minimal postischemic forearm vascular resistance was unchanged, indicating a lack of relationship with functional arteriolar tone and the achievement of maximal dilatation. In two additional groups of patients, systemic arterial pressure was decreased by approximately equipotent oral doses of either nifedipine, a calcium antagonist (n=6), or captopril, an angiotension converting enzyme inhibitor (n=5). Under these conditions, minimal forearm vascular resistance was unchanged from pretreatment values, suggesting that local autoregulatory mechanisms were overridden during the reactive hyperemia, and that the vessel lumen was dependent on the distending pressure. Overall, the data show that our experimental conditions are suitable for measuring minimal forearm vascular resistance as a functional correlate of the morphological status of systemic arterioles in arterial hypertension.