Rarefaction of skin capillaries in normotensive offspring of individuals with essential hypertension
- 1Blood Pressure Unit, St George's Hospital Medical School, London, UK
- 2Dermatology Unit, Department of Medicine, St George's Hospital Medical School
- 3Clinical Pharmacology Unit, Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, St George's Hospital Medical School
- Correspondence to:
Dr Tarek F T Antonios, Blood Pressure Unit, St George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK;
- Accepted 18 September 2002
Background: Rarefaction of skin capillaries in people with intermittent borderline essential hypertension suggests a primary or an early abnormality that may antedate the onset of sustained hypertension.
Objective: To compare skin capillary density in subjects with and without a family history of essential hypertension.
Subjects: 21 normotensive individuals, one or both of whose parents had essential hypertension (mean age 39.3 years; blood pressure 124/79 mm Hg); 21 normotensive controls with no family history of hypertension (age 46.3 years; blood pressure 124/78 mm Hg).
Methods: The skin of the dorsum of the fingers was examined by intravital capillary microscopy before and after venous congestion at 60 mm Hg for two minutes.
Results: By analysis of variance, both baseline and maximum skin capillary density were lower in subjects with a family history of essential hypertension than in those with no family history (baseline: 67 v 79 capillaries per field, p = 0.008; maximum: 74 v 93 capillaries per field, p < 0.0005).
Conclusions: Capillary rarefaction in essential hypertension may occur before the increase in blood pressure and could, at least in part, reflect a primary rather than a secondary abnormality.