Oral water ingestion increases blood pressure in normal elderly subjects and in patients suffering from autonomic failure, but the time course of the haemodynamic changes is not known. We therefore studied 14 subjects with documented sympathetic denervation due to pure autonomic failure, with continuous haemodynamic recordings obtained before and after ingestion of 500 ml of distilled water at room temperature. The time course of changes in values of systolic and diastolic beat-by-beat finger blood pressure, heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, ejection fraction and total peripheral resistance were analysed. Systolic blood pressure rose from 115±8 mmHg (mean±S.E.M.) to 133±8 mmHg (P < 0.001), and diastolic blood pressure from 64±4 to 73±4 mmHg (P < 0.001), with the pressor response beginning a few minutes after water ingestion, plateauing between 10 and 35 min (peak at 14 min), and returning to baseline at 50 min. Heart rate fell from 71±2.5 to 67±2 beats/min (P < 0.001), and total peripheral resistance increased from 1.31±0.19 to 1.61±0.24 m-units (P < 0.001). There were no significant changes in ejection fraction, stroke volume or cardiac output. This study confirmed a pressor response to oral water in subjects with sympathetic denervation. The temporal profile of the response did not favour reflexly mediated sympathetic activation. As subjects with autonomic failure are prone to salt and water depletion, and since blood pressure is exquisitely sensitive to such changes, it may be that the observed response is due to repletion or restoration of intravascular and extravascular fluid volume.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.