Digitalis restores the forearm sympathetic response to cardiopulmonary receptor unloading in hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy

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Abstract

Objective:

To investigate whether the impaired reflex response to cardiopulmonary baroreceptor unloading in hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy can be promptly improved by a pharmacological challenge. For this purpose we studied the effects of acute digitalis administration on cardiopulmonary baroreflex, evaluated by forearm noradrenaline spillover

Methods:

Eleven hypertensives with left ventricular hypertrophy and 10 age- and sex-matched normotensives underwent the application of -5 and -10mmHg lower-body negative pressure (LBNP) before and after the administration of digitalis. Forearm noradrenaline spillover, measured using a tracer technique, was used to estimate the reflex sympathetic response

Results:

Under control conditions LBNP evoked a similar fall in right atrial pressure in the two study groups. In the normotensives there was a significant increase in forearm noradrenaline spillover. In the hypertensives no significant changes in forearm noradrenaline spillover were found. Intravenous administration of 0.02 mg/kg lanatoside C was associated with an increase in systolic blood pressure and a reduction in forearm noradrenaline spillover in both groups. In the normotensives the percentage change in forearm noradrenaline spillover induced by LBNP increased significantly in response to digitalis administration. However, digitalis restored the response of forearm noradrenaline spillover to LBNP in the hypertensives, so that no significant difference in this response was detected between the two study groups. Digitalis did not modify the effects of LBNP on cardiac pressures in either group

Conclusions:

The present results demonstrate that administration of lanatoside C restores the response of forearm noradrenaline spillover to cardiopulmonary baroreceptor unloading in hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy. This indicates that the impairment of cardiopulmonary baroreflexes in these patients can be reversed by acute pharmacological treatment. Therefore, impairment of this reflex response seems to be related to functional rather than to structural abnormalities of the hypertrophied ventricle

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