Cutaneous sensibility and peripheral nerve function in patients with unmedicated essential hypertension

Sensorimotor deficits in patients with essential hypertension may be due to impaired nerve function. Cutaneous sensory thresholds, median nerve sensory and motor conduction velocities, andmedian nerve sensory action potential amplitudes were assessed in 30 patients with unmedicated essential hypertension and 29 normotensives. Cutaneous sensory thresholds were higher and sensory action potential amplitudes smaller in hypertensives than normotensives whereas sensory and motor nerve conduction velocities did not differ between groups. These data suggest that hypertension may reduce the number of active sensory nerve fibers without affecting myelination. Sensory action potential amplitudes were inversely related to cutaneous sensory thresholds, suggesting that subclinical axonal neuropathy of sensory afferents may help account for perceptual deficits that characterize hypertension.