We monitored the circadian profiles of cortisol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP) and heart rate (HR) in 33 matched normotensive subjects, 32 patients with essential hypertension and 16 patients with Cushing's Syndrome (8 pituitary adenomas, 6 adrenal adenomas and 2 adrenal carcinomas). Each subject underwent serial blood drawings at 4-hr intervals along the 24-hr cycle. BP and HR were automatically recorded every 30 min. Data were analyzed by conventional statistics and by chronobiological procedures (cosinor rhythmometry). Both the control subjects and essential hypertensives showed a circadian profile of BP and HR characterized by a peak in the early afternoon and a clear nocturnal fall (rhythm detection: P less than 0.001). The rhythmicity of BP was disrupted in patients affected by Cushing's Syndrome, whereas the 24-hr oscillation of HR was preserved (P less than 0.001). Our data are compatible with the view that glucocorticoids are involved in the control of BP circadian rhythm, whereas HR is not under their control.
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