The effect of chronic hypertension on skin blood flow

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ObjectiveTo determine whether the cutaneous microvasculature of the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is affected by chronic hypertensionDesignWe used laser Doppler techniques to measure skin blood flow in 22 SHR and in 22 non-hypertensive Wistar- Kyoto (WKY) rats over a 1-year time span, beginning at age 3 months. Sites of measurement included the back, leg, and root of the tail, areas with a predominantly nutritive perfusion, and the plantar surface of the paw, which has a large contribution from large arterioles and venules. Flow was measured at basal skin temperature and at the maximally heat-stimulated condition of 44°C. Systolic tail arterial blood pressures were measured concurrentlyResultAt baseline, systolic blood pressures were considerably higher in the SHR (190±4mmHg) than they were in the WKY rats (138±2mmHg). Skin blood flow values at the three nutritive sites were similar in the two species. However, at 44°C, flow was significantly higher at the paw in the SHR (46.8±3.5 versus 34.3± 2.2 ml/min per 100g). We attribute this difference to the effect of high perfusion pressure on large arterioles. During the 1-year measurement period, there was no appreciable change in blood flow in the WKY rats. In contrast, the SHR showed a steady progressive decline in skin blood flow at all sites. The largest decline was at the paw with a rate of fall of about 2.4%/month. After 1 year, there was no difference between paw blood flow in the SHR (27.5 ±1.8 ml/min per 100g) and in the WKY rats (27.6±1.9ml/min per 100g)ConclusionsSkin blood flow reserve falls in response to chronic hypertension. The rate of fall is greater at sites with significant arteriovenous perfusion than at nutritive sites

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