Because of her final examinations, Cathy had been under prolonged stress, which overstimulated her sympathoadrenal system.
The increased sympathoadrenal activity could account for her rapid pulse (due to increased heart rate) and her hypertension (due to increased heart rate and vasoconstriction). Her headache was probably due to the fact that her pupils were dilated, thus admitting excessive amounts of light. Since she had been preparing drugs for a laboratory exercise on autonomic control, she may have been exposed to atropine, which would have caused dilation of her pupils. This possibility is strengthened by the fact that she felt her mouth to be excessively dry.
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