The potential of drag reducing polymers (DRP) to selectively improve blood flow through clinically significant arterial stenoses was investigated. An artificial stenosis of the left common iliac artery in dogs decreased left femoral artery pressure by 25%. High-molecular-weight polyacrylamide (PA) or polyethylene oxide (PEO) were infused at a slow constant rate while we measured left and right common iliac artery blood flows and left and right femoral artery and vein pressures. As DRP were infused, left iliac artery flow (QL) increased early and then decreased to baseline values as flow began to increase in the right iliac artery. The peak increase in QL was 24 ± 9% for PA and 46 ± 19% for PEO and occurred before right iliac artery flow (QR) increased. As additional polymer was infused, QR increased to a maximum of 41 ± 12 and 131 ± 40% with PA and PEO, respectively. Femoral artery pressures and hindlimb resistances tended to decrease in both limbs but the only significant differences occurred in the right (nonstenosed) side when QR was elevated. This study provides the first evidence that low concentrations of DRP might be capable of improving blood flow through stenotic blood vessels without altering flow in normal vessels. Although DRP might represent a new class of compounds that could be utilized in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, the degree of variation in individual responses is a concern, the exact mechanism of action is unclear, and information on pharmacodynamics is lacking.
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