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These tests are used to check whether excessive secretion of catecholamines is responsible for sudden bursts of hypertension.

Epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine are three catecholamines involved in nerve transmission and response to stress. The central parts of both adrenal glands (adrenal medulla) and of some nerve cells are responsible for producing epinephrine and norepinephrine, the two most important catecholamines. A rare tumour of the adrenal medulla known as a pheochromocytoma may be responsible for secreting very large amounts of catecholamines. This oversecretion varies over time and is accompanied by sudden and severe bursts of hypertension. As these hypertensive bursts vary over time, it is sometimes difficult to confirm the diagnosis with a blood test. Measurement of catecholamines and their inactive metabolites (metanephrine, normetanephrine, and VMA) over a longer period of time (24-hour urine specimens) increases the likelihood of detecting these oversecretions of catecholamines.

Term of the Week

Hot zone

A hot zone is a section of a facility (sometimes an entire facility or even a city district) where there is a high risk of contamination by patients with an infectious disease. All individuals entering a hot zone must respect appropriate protective measures. By analogy, “cold zone” and “warm zone” are used to refer to areas where there is no infected individual or only individuals suspected of having an infection.