Elevated blood viscosity in patients with borderline essential hypertension.
In patients with borderline hypertension, total peripheral resistance (TPR) is either elevated or abnormally related to cardiac output. Since blood viscosity is one determinant of TPR, we compared various components of blood viscosity in 25 patients with borderline hypertension and 25 normal subjects. Under all experimental blood flow conditions examined, blood viscosity directly correlated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p less than 0.05 or better) and was greater in the hypertensive than in normal subjects. Venous hematocrit and plasma viscosity were higher in the hypertensive patients. These latter rheologic abnormalities accounted for the increased blood viscosity at higher shear rates. At lower shear rates, increased red cell aggregation, primarily mediated by elevated fibrinogen concentration, accounted for the higher blood viscosity in the hypertensive subjects. We conclude that even relatively small elevations in arterial pressure are associated with increased viscous resistance of blood to flow, and that the increased blood viscosity is a consequence of increased hematocrit, plasma viscosity, and red cell aggregation.