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SUMMARY: Arterial and venous compliances are decreased in men with sustained essential hypertension. The reduced arterial compliance acts to maintain systolic pressure and end-systolic stress, thus contributing to the development of cardiac hypertrophy. Since cardiac output remains within the normal range in the hypertrophied hypertensive heart, elevated left ventricular pressures, and therefore increased cardiac filling pressures, are necessary if an adequate stroke volume is to be maintained. In hypertensive persons, reduced venous compliance acts to maintain the filling pressure of the heart in the presence of reduced intravascular volume. In patients with hypertension, even if compliance changes have been initiated by the elevated blood pressure itself, the reduced arterial and venous compliance observed in cross-sectional studies is not simply the mechanical consequence of the elevated blood pressure, but also reflects intrinsic alterations of the vascular wall. Consequently, blood pressure reduction caused by antihypertensive agents is not constantly associated with a reversion of the decreased vascular compliance. Such observations may be of importance in the consideration of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients treated for hypertension.

(C) 1987 American Heart Association, Inc.