1. Nifedipine, a calcium antagonist drug, was given sublingually (10 mg) to seven normal subjects and 19 patients with essential hypertension. In addition, 12 of the hypertensive subjects then received nifedipine (10 mg thrice daily) for 3 weeks.
2. Sublingual administration of nifedipine in hypertensive patients induced a prompt and sustained reduction of blood pressure, without a significant increase of heart rate; in normotensive subjects blood pressure did not change, and heart rate was significantly increased. After chronic treatment, blood pressure remained reduced and heart rate did not rise.
3. Plasma catecholamines and plasma renin activity increased significantly in normotensive subjects after acute administration.
4. After both acute and chronic administration, only plasma noradrenaline was significantly increased in hypertensive patients; in long-term treatment, it was increased in both the lying and standing positions.
5. Nifedipine is an active antihypertensive drug, which may induce some degree of sympathetic activation.