1. Haemodynamic responses to diazoxide (300 mg intravenously) were studied in 15 hypertensive patients before and after chronic β-adrenoreceptor blockade by 320 mg of propranolol daily. After diazoxide alone, mean arterial pressure and total peripheral resistance were lowered by 24 ± 3 and 35 ± 5% (mean ± sem) respectively. Cardiac output and heart rate rose by 25 ± 9 and 21 ± 3%. During β-adrenoreceptor blockade, the percentage changes of mean arterial pressure, heart rate, cardiac output and total peripheral resistance after vasodilatation were not significantly different from those after diazoxide alone.
2. Atropine, 0·04 mg/kg body weight, was given to 12 hypertensive patients chronically treated with β-adrenoreceptor blockade, before acute vasodilatation by diazoxide. Diazoxide caused no increase in heart rate after combined β-adrenoreceptor and parasympathetic blockade. However, cardiac output rose by 14 ± 5%.
3. We conclude that withdrawal of parasympathetic tone is an important determinant of circulatory homeostasis after acute vasodilatation during β-adrenoreceptor blockade.