carotids are occluded. Removal of the occlusion allows the pressure in the carotid sinuses to rise, and the carotid sinus reflex now causes the aortic pressure to fall immediately to slightly below normal as a momentary overcompensation and then return to normal in another minute.

Function of the Baroreceptors During Changes in Body

Posture. The ability of the baroreceptors to maintain relatively constant arterial pressure in the upper body is important when a person stands up after having been lying down. Immediately on standing, the arterial pressure in the head and upper part of the body tends to fall, and marked reduction of this pressure could cause loss of consciousness. However, the falling pressure at the baroreceptors elicits an immediate reflex, resulting in strong sympathetic discharge throughout the body. This minimizes the decrease in pressure in the head and upper body.

Pressure "Buffer" Function of the Baroreceptor Control System. Because the baroreceptor system opposes either increases or decreases in arterial pressure, it is called a pressure buffer system, and the nerves from the baroreceptors are called buffer nerves.

Figure 18-8 shows the importance of this buffer function of the baroreceptors. The upper record in this figure shows an arterial pressure recording for 2 hours from a normal dog, and the lower record shows an arterial pressure recording from a dog whose barore-ceptor nerves from both the carotid sinuses and the aorta had been removed. Note the extreme variability of pressure in the denervated dog caused by simple events of the day, such as lying down, standing, excitement, eating, defecation, and noises.

Figure 18-9 shows the frequency distributions of the mean arterial pressures recorded for a 24-hour day in both the normal dog and the denervated dog. Note that when the baroreceptors were functioning normally the mean arterial pressure remained throughout the day within a narrow range between 85 and 115 mm Hg—indeed, during most of the day at almost exactly 100 mm Hg. Conversely, after denervation of the baroreceptors, the frequency distribution curve became the broad, low curve of the figure, showing that the pressure range increased 2.5-fold, frequently falling to as low as 50 mm Hg or rising to over 160 mm Hg. Thus, one can see the extreme variability of pressure in the absence of the arterial baroreceptor system.

In summary, a primary purpose of the arterial baroreceptor system is to reduce the minute by minute variation in arterial pressure to about one third that which would occur were the baroreceptor system not present.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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