Progressive Hypertension in Dogs by Avoidance Conditioning and Saline Infusion

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A group of dogs was trained on a free-operant avoidance-conditioning task that evoked acute increases in arterial pressure and heart rate during each of three daily 30-minute sessions. After 15 days of exposure to this procedure under conditions of normal sodium intake, 24-hour mean levels of arterial pressure remained unchanged. Another group of dogs received continuous intrarterial infusion of isotonic saline at a constant rate of 185 mEq/24 hrs for 15 days, but no avoidance sessions. Again, 24-hour mean levels of arterial pressure did not change significantly. However, 24-hour mean levels of systolic (19.5 +/- 6.2 mm Hg) and diastolic (13.7 +/- 2.9 mm Hg) pressure rose progressively over a 15-day period in a third group of dogs exposed concurrently to the avoidance schedule and saline infusion procedure. The progressive hypertension was accompanied by no consistent changes in heart rate. These experiments indicate that behavioral stress can potentiate sodium hypertension and provide a new method for the study of physiological and behavioral factors in long-term blood pressure control.

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Hypertension, v. 5, issue 3, p. 286-291