The ability of neurohumoral reflex control mechanisms to respond to a vasodilator mediated alteration in hemodynamic status was studied. A sodium nitroprusside infusion was administered to 5 normal subjects and 47 patients with severe congestive heart failure resulting in significant decreases in mean arterial pressure and in systemic vascular resistance. As expected in normals the vasodilator stimulus caused a reflex activation in both the renin-angiotensin system and sympathetic nervous system as measured by increased plasma renin activity and plasma norepinephrine, respectively. In the patients with heart failure, plasma renin activity rose similarly in response to nitroprusside (+63% in heart failure, 100% in normals, P = NS) while plasma norepinephrine remained essentially unchanged (+11% in heart failure, 98% in normals, P < 0.01). These data demonstrate that the neurohumoral dysfunction seen in patients with heart failure is not uniform. In patients with severe congestive heart failure the renin-angiotensin system apparently is activated by mechanisms other than sympathetic nervous stimulation. This intact reflex humoral response may still function in opposition to the beneficial hemodynamic effects produced by direct vasodilators such as nitroprusside.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Correspondence 10: T. Barry Levine, M.D., University of Minnesota Hospitals. Box 79 Mayo Memorial Building. Minneapolis. MN 55455. U.S.A. Supported in part by NIH grant HL 22977 from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
- congestive heart failure
- renin-angiotensin system
- sympathetic nervous system