We measured the circulating levels of atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) in 62 patients with untreated uncomplicated essential hypertension and in 30 normotensive subjects. In the hypertensive patients, mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 148 and 101 mm Hg, respectively, and the mean heart rate was 73 beats/min. ANP concentrations were not elevated in the hypertensive group but were actually decreased slightly over those of the control group (27.4 ± 1.8 pg/ml versus 35.3 ± 2.4 pg/ml [P < 0.02]). No relationship was found between ANP levels and diastolic blood pressure, plasma renin activity, urinary sodium excretion, or serum creatinine level. In 8 of the 62 patients with essential hypertension, 6 weeks of treatment with a dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker, nitrendipine, significantly reduced plasma ANP levels from 28.6 ± 4.3 pg/ml to 18.7 ± 1.8 pg/ml (P < 0.05). In 17 additional patients treated with the hypotensive agent ketanserin, ANP levels were not significantly reduced after treatment. Thus, this study demonstrates that circulating plasma ANP levels are not increased but are slightly decreased in patients with uncomplicated essential hypertension in comparison with normotensive subjects. Furthermore, antihypertensive treatment with a calcium channel antagonist reduced plasma levels of ANP.
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