Morphine, by a central action, impairs sympathetic vascular reflexes (causing veno- and arteriolar dilatation) and stimulates the vagal centre (bradycardia); it also releases histamine (vasodilatation). These effects are ordinarily unimportant, but they can be beneficial in acute left ventricular failure, relieving mental distress by tranquillising, cardiac distress by reduction of sympathetic drive and preload (by venodilatation), and respiratory distress by rendering the centre insensitive to afferent stimuli from the congested lungs.
Other effects of morphine include sweating, histamine release, pruritus and piloerection.
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