Red blood cell (RBC) deformability, RBC aggregability and tissue oxygenation in hypertension

Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 1999;21(3-4):169-77.


Arterial hypertension could be considered a progressive ischaemic syndrome interesting the macro and the microcirculation. In order to improve the clinical and therapeutic approach to the treatment of arterial hypertension, research has centered on blood flow to evaluate the different components and their very intricate relationships influencing the micro- and the macrocirculation. Of course the main problem is to study the link between the blood flow and the peripheral tissue oxygenation. During hypertension very important alterations in rheological, mechanical and biochemical characteristics of erythrocytes and of blood flow have been shown. It is very relevant the increase in blood viscosity, the decrease in red blood cell (RBC) deformability, the formation of RBC "rouleaux" and RBC aggregates. These hemorheological determinants can favour an increase of peripheral resistances and of arterial blood pressure, causing or worsening hypertension, a decrease in oxygen transport to tissue and peripheral perfusion, a decrease of the active exchange surface area in the microvasculature, especially in complicated hypertension. We have studied 320 patients: 123 with Essential Hypertension (EH) (M 59, F 64 aged 50 +/- 25 years); 81 with Secondary Hypertension (SH) without associated other pathologies influencing hemorheology (M 42, F 39 aged 48 +/- 20 years); 116 SH with other pathologies or conditions associated influencing hemorheology such as: diabetes, lipoidoproteinosis, obesity, smoking, HD, elderly, etc. (M 48, F 68 aged 46 +/- 20 years). Using a Laser-assisted Optical Rotational Red Cell Analyzer (LORCA) acc. to Hardeman (1994) we studied Elongation Index (EI) and aggregation kinetics of red blood cells in these patients. We also evaluated TcpO2 and TcpCO2 using a transcutaneous oxymeter (Microgas 7650, Kontron Instruments). In hypertensives we found a decrease in erythrocyte deformability (evaluated with EI), in erythrocyte aggregation time, a fibrinogenaemia increase, an increase of shear rate to disaggregate erythrocytes, a decrease in cellular oxygen delivery and tissue oxygenation, an impairment of microcirculation. These changes may be involved in the development of arterial hypertension and in its pathogenesis. These patterns also are more impaired in hypertensives with diabetes, lipoidoproteinosis, etc. These patterns are not related with the age of the patients but they are significantly and directly related (p < 0.01) with the patient hypertension-age. This could be a new way to realize a better treatment in hypertensives and a prevention of cardiovascular complications (i.e.: myocardial infarction, TIA, etc.).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arteries / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Erythrocyte Aggregation*
  • Erythrocyte Deformability*
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Erythrocytes / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood*
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / metabolism*


  • Oxygen