Disorders of the autonomic nervous system: Part 2. investigation and treatment

Authors

  • Dr. J. G. McLeod DPhil, FRACP,

    1. Department of Neurology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
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  • R. R. Tuck PhD, FRACP

    1. Department of Neurology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
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  • Part 1, «Disorders of the Autonomic Nervous System: Pathophysiology and Clinical Features,» appeared in the May issue

Abstract

Autonomic function may be adequately tested with noninvasive tests of sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways, including: the response of blood pressure to change in posture and isometric contraction, heart rate response to standing, variation in heart rate with respiration, Valsalva ratio, sweat tests, and plasma noradrenaline measurements. Abnormal results in two or more of these tests indicate autonomic dysfunction. Intraarterial catheterization and tests of vasomotor function are usually required only in doubtful cases or for research purposes. Treatment of autonomic dysfunction is focused primarily on bladder control and control of orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is best treated with physical measures, pharmacologically with 9-alpha-fluorohydrocortisone and dihydroergotamine mesylate. A number of other agents may be tried but results have been less effective.

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