Catecholamines in Blood
A test for catecholamines measures the amount of the Reference hormones Opens New Window epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the blood. These catecholamines are made by Reference nerve tissue Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, the brain, and the Reference adrenal glands Opens New Window. Catecholamines help the body respond to stress or fright and prepare the body for "fight-or-flight" reactions.
The Reference adrenal glands Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window make large amounts of catecholamines as a reaction to stress. The main catecholamines are epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and dopamine. They break down into vanillylmandelic acid (VMA), metanephrine, and normetanephrine. Metanephrine and normetanephrine also may be measured during a catecholamine test.
Catecholamines increase heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, muscle strength, and mental alertness. They also lower the amount of blood going to the skin and intestines and increase blood going to the major organs, such as the brain, heart, and kidneys.
Certain rare tumors (such as a Reference pheochromocytoma Opens New Window) can increase the amount of catecholamines in the blood. This causes high blood pressure, excessive sweating, headaches, fast heartbeats (palpitations), and tremors.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 20, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology