Plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations, measured in samples drawn from the pulmonary artery, were raised in nine of 17 patients with hypoxic pulmonary hypertension but normal right atrial pressures at rest. No relationship was seen between atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations and mean pulmonary artery or right atrial pressure, or calculated pulmonary or systemic vascular resistance. Patients with the most severe hypoxaemia tended to have higher plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations; three patients with no past history of oedema had concentrations more than twice the upper limit of normal. Treatment with supplementary oxygen for 30 minutes reduced pulmonary vascular resistance in all patients but had no significant effect on plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentration. These findings suggest that atrial natriuretic peptide may be a factor in the control of sodium and water balance in hypoxic cor pulmonale, where the determinants of individual susceptibility to peripheral oedema are not well understood.
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