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July 8, 1974

"Stress" Polycythemia and Hypertension

Author Affiliations

From the Hypertension Division, Department of Medicine, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and the Medical Service, Veterans Administration Hospital, Oklahoma City.

JAMA. 1974;229(2):159-162. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230400021024

Thirteen of 478 patients whose blood volumes were measured within a two-year period demonstrated "stress" polycythemia; each of these patients had sustained systolic or diastolic hypertension of varying severity. In five patients, antihypertensive (sympatholytic) therapy was associated with remission of the "stress" polycythemia. One half of the patients studied in the present series, and 47% of those previously reported had severe cardiovascular disease; 71% of the latter patients also had arterial hypertension. These findings strongly suggest that "stress" polycythemia should not be considered a "benign" condition meriting therapy with phlebotomy or tranquilizing drugs. Patients with arterial pressure elevation should be treated vigorously with close observation for control of hypertension and remission of the polycythemia.

(JAMA 229:159-162, 1974)