The present study was designed first to investigate the pulmonary hypertensive effects of chronic hypoxia in spontaneously hypertensive rats and second to compare the cardiovascular effects of atrial natriuretic factor on rats exposed to hypoxia and on control rats kept at sea level. Catheters were placed in the femoral and pulmonary arteries for measurement of mean systemic arterial pressure and mean pulmonary arterial pressure. The cardiac output was measured by thermodilution method. It was found that 4 weeks of simulated 18,000-foot hypoxia led to polycythemia, right ventricular hypertrophy, and pulmonary hypertension, which resulted from an increased pulmonary vascular resistance. However, systemic arterial pressure was not significantly different between the two groups of rats. Atrial natriuretic factor administration decreased systemic arterial pressure and pulmonary arterial pressure to a lesser extent in the hypoxic group compared with the sea level control group. It is concluded that these animals showed an impaired response to atrial natriuretic factor after long-term exposure to hypoxia.
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