Interactions between cardiovascular and pain regulatory systems.
A review of pharmacological, neuroanatomical, electrophysiological, and behavioral data indicates that systems controlling cardiovascular function are closely coupled to systems modulating the perception of pain. This view is directly supported by experiments from our laboratory showing that activation of either the cardiopulmonary baroreceptor reflex arc or the sinoaortic baroreceptor reflex arc induces antinociception. The outcomes of studies using pharmacological treatments, peripheral nerve stimulation, peripheral nerve resection, and CNS lesions are also presented as a preliminary means of characterizing cardiovascular input to pain regulatory systems. The network formed by these systems is proposed to participate in the elaboration of adaptive responses to physical and psychological stressors at various levels of the neuroaxis, and possibly to participate in "diseases of adaptation." In particular, the present analysis suggests that the inhibition of pain brought about by elevations in either arterial or venous blood pressure may provide a form of psychophysiological relief under situations of stress and contribute to the development of essential hypertension in humans.
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