This study was designed to determine whether calcium contributes to the regulation of rhythmic oscillations in blood pressure. Six normal subjects received sequential 1-h infusions of calcium gluconate (1.5, 3.0 and 4.5 mg calcium/kg/h) during continuous blood pressure (Finapres) monitoring. The plasma ionized calcium ([Ca2+]) concentration increased from 4.6 ± 0.07 mg/dl to 5.97 ± 0.20 mg/dl (p < 0.01) with infusion. The mid-frequency (0.07-0.14 Hz, Mayer wave) power spectrum of diastolic blood pressure was depressed slightly following the first dose but increased significantly following the final dose (p < 0.05). The high-frequency (0.15-0.40 Hz) power spectrum of systolic blood pressure decreased following the first dose (p < 0.05) and subsequently remained low. The low-frequency (0.02-0.06 Hz) power spectrum was not affected. These results demonstrate that graded hypercalcaemia affects blood pressure oscillations in man. Our data suggest that the amplitude of the Mayer wave, a clinical marker of sympathetic vascular tone, is modulated in part by calcium.
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