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Effects of sympathetic activation by adrenergic infusions on hemostasis in vivo

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Abstract: Overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) has been related to increased cardiovascular morbidity. Historical reports suggest hastening of blood coagulation following intravenous administration of epinephrine. Given the important role of the hemostatic system in atherosclerosis and thrombosis, it is surprising that short‐term adrenergic effects on blood coagulation, fibrinolysis and platelet activity have not been scrutinized closely. To elucidate such effects in vivo, this paper reviews human studies in which α‐ and β‐sympathomimetic agents had been infused. The literature suggests a dose‐dependent stimulation of factor VIII clotting activity, von Willebrand factor antigen, tissue‐type plasminogen activator, and platelets within a 15‐ to 40‐min infusion of epinephrine. Precise mechanisms underlying hemostatic changes with sympathetic activation remain to some extent speculative. However, there is evidence from adrenoreceptor blockade studies that coagulation and fibrinolysis molecules are released into circulation by stimulation of vascular endothelial β‐adrenoreceptors (most likely β2‐receptors). Combined α2‐ and β2‐adrenoreceptor‐related mechanism(s) are responsible for platelet activation. Short‐term activation of the SNS effects regular hemostatic activity. While in healthy individuals the hemostatic balance between coagulation and fibrinolysis may be preserved, catecholamine surge may trigger a hypercoagulable state and enhance the odds of overt thrombosis in patients with atherosclerotic disease.
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Keywords: atherosclerosis; blood coagulation; catecholamines; fibrinolysis; platelets; psychological stress; sympathetic nervous system

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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