In order to assess the effects of age on blood pressure, pulse, and neurohumoral responses to hypotensive stress, we infused nitroprusside into healthy young and old men until mean arterial blood pressure was reduced 20% from basal. Elderly subjects were much more sensitive to nitroprusside. Pulse increases in response to this hypotensive stress were markedly reduced in the elderly, but renin, vasopressin, and norepinephrine responses were not different between young and old. We conclude that cardioacceleration, one of the primary defenses against hypotension, is impaired with age. However, neurohumoral responses to hypotension are intact in the elderly.
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