There was no significant difference in forearm muscle blood flow, measured by the clearance of 133Xenon when 38 patients with liver disease were compared with 38 normal subjects. Patients with a clinically hyperdynamic circulation, finger clubbing, and previous portocaval anastomoses were included in the study.
The changes in forearm skeletal muscle blood flow and pulse rate caused by a head-up tilt of 70 degrees were measured in 15 patients with chronic liver disease and 15 age-matched controls. Head-up tilting resulted in significantly less peripheral vasoconstriction and tachycardia in the group with liver disease than in the control group.
These results suggest an impairment of baroreceptor-mediated sympathetic reactivity in liver disease. Such a defect might explain the relative rarity of hypertension in patients with cirrhosis.
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