Pharmacological Actions

Hydralazine produces widespread but apparently not uniform vasodilation; that is, vascular resistance is decreased more in cerebral, coronary, renal, and splanchnic beds than in skeletal muscle and skin. Renal blood flow and ultimately glomerular filtration rate may be slightly increased after acute treatment with hy-dralazine. However, after several days of therapy, the renal blood flow is usually no different from that before drug use.

In therapeutic doses, hydralazine produces little effect on nonvascular smooth muscle or on the heart. Its pharmacological actions are largely confined to vascular smooth muscle and occur predominantly on the arterial side of the circulation; venous capacitance is much less affected. Because cardiovascular reflexes and venous capacitance are not affected by hydralazine, postural hypotension is not a clinical concern. Hydralazine treatment does, however, result in an increase in cardiac output. This action is brought about by the combined effects of a reflex increase in sympathetic stimulation of the heart, an increase in plasma renin, and salt and water retention. These effects limit the hypotensive usefulness of hydralazine to such an extent that it is rarely used alone.

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