Definitions for autonomic dysreflexia
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Autonomic dysreflexia, also known as autonomic hyperreflexia, is a potentially life threatening condition which can be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. AD occurs most often in spinal cord-injured individuals with spinal lesions above the T6 spinal cord level; although, it has been known to occur in patients with a lesion as low as T10. Acute AD is a reaction of the autonomic nervous system to overstimulation. It is characterised by severe paroxysmal hypertension associated with throbbing headaches, profuse sweating, nasal stuffiness, flushing of the skin above the level of the lesion, bradycardia, apprehension and anxiety, which is sometimes accompanied by cognitive impairment. The sympathetic discharge that occurs is usually in association with spinal cord injury or disease. AD is believed to be triggered by afferent stimuli which originate below the level of the spinal cord lesion. It is believed that these afferent stimuli trigger and maintain an increase in blood pressure via a sympathetically mediated vasoconstriction in muscle, skin and splanchnic vascular beds.
U.S. National Library of Medicine
A syndrome associated with damage to the spinal cord above the mid thoracic level (see SPINAL CORD INJURIES) characterized by a marked increase in the sympathetic response to minor stimuli such as bladder or rectal distention. Manifestations include HYPERTENSION; TACHYCARDIA (or reflex bradycardia); FEVER; FLUSHING; and HYPERHIDROSIS. Extreme hypertension may be associated with a STROKE. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp538 and 1232; J Spinal Cord Med 1997;20(3):355-60)
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