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September 8, 2008

The Cold Pressor Test: A New Predictor of Future Hypertension?

Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(16):1732. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.16.1732

Cold exposure is known to raise blood pressure (BP). Long ago, a systematic evaluation of this effect resulted in the “cold pressor” test (CPT), in which the nondominant arm was immersed to the wrist in ice water for 90 to 120 seconds and the rise in BP was measured in the opposite arm. Most students of medicine and physiology can personally recall serving as experimental subjects in the laboratory during this somewhat painful procedure. The rise in BP is mediated primarily by activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and the magnitude and duration of increase has been shown to be influenced by a variety of factors, among them basal BP levels.

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