Cold pressor test

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The cold pressor test is a cardiovascular test performed by immersing the hand into an ice-water container, usually for one minute, and measuring changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Its response is clinically indicative concerning vascular response and pulse excitability.


Sensory afferents trigger a systemic sympathetic activation leading to marked vasodilation. The result is an elevated pulse pressure(normal is 70mm Hg), due to catecholamine release. This increased pressure fills the ventricle to a greater extent, but stroke volume decreases for by an increase in afterload.


A. B. Lafleche et al. Arterial response during cold pressor test in borderline hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 275: H409-H415, 1998;

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