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Review
, 60 (6), 853-65

Acute and Long-Term Studies of the Mechanisms of Action of Beta-Blocking Drugs in Lowering Blood Pressure

Review

Acute and Long-Term Studies of the Mechanisms of Action of Beta-Blocking Drugs in Lowering Blood Pressure

K O Stumpe et al. Am J Med.

Abstract

The antihypertensive effect of intravenous (acute) and oral (long-term) beta-adrenergic blockade with propranolol or pindolol was evaluated in 46 male patients with either borderline (group I; 23 patients) or sustained (group II; 23 patients) essential hypertension. Arterial pressure, plasma renin activity and plasma concentration of aldosterone were determined during continuous recumbency overnight every 30 minutes before and after treatment. Patients of group I exhibited a marked variation of their recumbent plasma renin activity with relatively low values before midnight and large increases early in the morning. In contrast, low plasma renin activity values and only minimal fluctuations in renin were observed in patients of group II. Plasma renin activity had a consistent relationship with blood pressure both after acute (r = 0.79) and long-term (r = 0.4) beta-blockade. In four patients of group I, who had high plasma renin activity and had responded to intravenous propranolol, infusion of angiotensin II inhibitor did not lower pressure. In group I following beta-blockade, day-night profiles of renin were similar to those observed in group II before treatment. Thus in this latter subgroup, low renin profiles might reflect reduced beta-adrenergic activity. Acute as well as long-term beta-blockade consistently eliminated the day-night rhythm of plasma renin activity, but it did not change rhythm of plasma concentration of aldosterone. Plasma concentration of aldosterone was lower in group II but appeared to be inappropriately high relative to renin levels. These observations suggest that in hypertensive patients classified according to blood pressure and recumbent plasma renin activity profiles a significant relationship exists between changes in plasma renin activity and arterial pressure responses. Thus, patients with high renin levels respond better to treatment than patients with low renin levels. We conclude that in the patients studied, sympathetic nervous system activity mainly determined renin levels as well as antihypertensive effectiveness of the beta-blocking drugs.

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