Endogenous Opiate Peptides, Stress Reactivity, and Risk for Hypertension

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American Heart Association


Endogenous opiate peptides can regulate neuroendocrine and circulatory responses to behavioral stress and may be important in the pathogenic effects of sympathoadrenal reactivity. We tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of the opiate antagonist naloxone on blood pressure responses to behavioral stress in young adults with high, medium, or low casual blood pressures. Naloxone increased mean arterial pressure responses to stress in subjects with low casual pressure, but had no significant effect on responses in subjects with high casual pressure. These results suggest opioidergic inhibition of sympathetic nervous system responses may be deficient in persons at risk for essential hypertension.