1. The non-invasive measurement of tail cuff systolic blood pressure in conscious rats is routinely used in long-term cardiovascular studies. There are a number of commercially available tail cuff systems, however, these apparatus are generally expensive and are dedicated for single-task operations. In the present study, a simple method for measuring systolic blood pressure, which requires only minor modifications to the existing hardware found in most cardiovascular laboratories, is described.

2. Systolic blood pressure measurements were made in the conventional manner by determining the systolic blood pressure which coincided with the restoration of the caudal artery pulse. This was achieved by using an inexpensive piezo-electric pulse transducer to detect the pulse, and this was coupled to a standard data-aquisition system (MacLab®, ADInstruments) normally set up to record blood pressure. This method was compared with another established tail cuff method, as well as with direct intra-arterial recordings.

3. It was found that the results obtained using both tail cuff systems were in good agreement when systolic blood pressure was measured in Wistar—Kyoto rats and spontaneously hypertensive rats. In addition, systolic blood pressure was measured over 4 weeks in 2K1C rats and sham-operated rats, with both tail cuff methods producing similar results, which were not significantly different from direct intra-arterial recordings in the same animals.

4. Thus, in the present study, with only minor modifications, the same equipment was used for both direct and indirect determinations of systolic blood pressure. This situation differs from other conventional tail cuff systems since these items are designed for a single purpose. Therefore, the current method using piezo-electric sensor/MacLab®-technology should be viewed as a relatively simple, flexible and cheap alternative method to measure tail cuff systolic blood pressure in conscious rats.

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