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JAMA 100 Years Ago
July 9, 2003


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2003;290(2):272. doi:10.1001/jama.290.2.272

The importance of the study of blood-pressure in pathologic conditions has become generally recognized, but its physiologic variations are hardly of less interest. There are some conditions, not directly pathologic in themselves, but readily made so, in which variations of this factor may have a supreme importance. In an article in the Lancet,1 and abstracted in THE JOURNAL,2 Dr. George Oliver describes the periodic variations of blood pressure, especially its increase, and the factors which produce this increased pressure. He finds that the digestive wave of increased blood-pressure is a predominant one, and that it is only temporarily affected by exercise, temperature, etc. There is a uniform rise after eating of some 12 or 18 c.c. of mercury, as shown by the hemodynamometer; the upward rise is rapid, occurring within an hour or a little more, while the decline is gradual, and lasts until nearly the next meal time. Thus the rise after a moderate meal is less than after a full one, but the fall occupies about the same time in either case. It is a little surprising at first thought that a rise of blood-pressure should occur simultaneously with the congestion in the splanchnic region attendant on digestion, but Oliver shows that there is a systemic congestion with the splanchnic dilation, with increased peripheral arterial tonus, and it is probable that this plays a physiologic part in the nutrition in causing, as he points out, concurrent exudation into the tissues of nourishing fluid expressed from the blood into the interstitial spaces. The pathologic or semi-pathologic significance of this fact is that of the danger of aggravating the normal physiologic blood tension into a pathologic condition by other factors which may aggravate the tension, such as mental or physical work.

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