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Chronic Blood Pressure Control

  1. Michael W. Brands

Published Online: 1 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100056

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Brands, M. W. 2012. Chronic Blood Pressure Control. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:2481–2494.

Author Information

  1. Department of Physiology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 OCT 2012

Abstract

Chronic blood pressure is maintained within very narrow limits around an average value. However, the multitude of physiologic processes that participate in blood pressure control present a bewildering array of possibilities to explain how such tight control of arterial pressure is achieved. Guyton and Coleman and colleagues addressed this challenge by creating a mathematical model that integrated the short- and long-term control systems for overall regulation of the circulation. The hub is the renal-body fluid feedback control system, which links cardiac function and vascular resistance and capacitance with fluid volume homeostasis as the foundation for chronic blood pressure control. The cornerstone of that system is renal sodium excretory capability, which is defined by the direct effect of blood pressure on urinary sodium excretion, that is, “pressure natriuresis.” Steady-state blood pressure is the pressure at which pressure natriuresis balances sodium intake over time; therefore, renal sodium excretory capability is the set point for chronic blood pressure. However, this often is misinterpreted as dismissing, or minimizing, the importance of nonrenal mechanisms in chronic blood pressure control. This article explains the renal basis for the blood pressure set point by focusing on the absolute dependence of our survival on the maintenance of sodium balance. Two principal threats to sodium balance are discussed: (1) a change in sodium intake or renal excretory capability and (2) a change in blood pressure. In both instances, circulatory homeostasis is maintained because the sodium balance blood pressure set point is reached. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:2481-2494, 2012.