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Autonomic Dysreflexia 

Autonomic Dysreflexia
Chapter:
Autonomic Dysreflexia
Author(s):

Koffi Kla

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190226459.003.0071
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date: 22 February 2020

Autonomic dysreflexia (AD), a potentially emergent clinical syndrome that can occur in patients with spinal cord injury, is characterized by a sudden rise in blood pressure caused by uncontrolled sympathetic activation of the autonomic system below the level of the lesion. When caring for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients, a pretreatment plan should be in place if an AD episode occurs. Physical manifestations of an AD episode can include headache, flushing, and diaphoresis above the lesion. Treatment should be aimed at identifying and eliminating the trigger stimulus and must be prompt to avoid serious complications of blood pressure elevation such as seizures, intracranial hemorrhage, myocardial infarction, or even death. When nonpharmacological measures fail, quick-onset, short-acting antihypertensive medications should be given to lower blood pressure.

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